I am writing open-source code based on another author's open-source code. The original author licensed the code under the GNU Public License and copyrighted it under his name. I am, of course, retaining the original license and won't remove his name.

However, I'm confused as to whether I can now copyright the code under my name, if it's already copyrighted under his name. How is this usually written in the code? For example, do I do this?

Copyright (C) 2013 "Original Author"
Copyright (C) 2020 "Me"

This program is free software... etc

Or does the copyright belong solely to the original author unless I change it completely?

1 Answer 1


Yes, the way you show is exactly how the copyright notice should look like.

You might want to give date ranges, if applicable, like

Copyright 1993 - 2001 the other
Copyright 2019 - 2020 Me

Copyright belongs to all people who contributed to the content of the file, each to what was individually written. That in turn means that you should add your copyright only to files of the project which you actually made modifications to.

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