Questions tagged [copyright]

Use this tag on questions about the copyrighting process and principles. Questions solely pertaining to general copyright are off topic.

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62
votes
4answers
10k views

How does GitHub's “forking right” cope with an “All rights reserved” project?

The GitHub FAQ states (emphasis mine): You're under no obligation to choose a license. It's your right not to include one with your code or project, but please be aware of the implications. ...
38
votes
3answers
2k views

Should I include a copyright line in every file?

This is similar to my other question, but specifically about Copyright rather than Licensing. Typically, each source file contains a line of the form Copyright 2010-2015, Me Is this strictly ...
29
votes
2answers
10k views

What's the difference between Copyright and Licensing?

Preamble There are two other questions, specifically related to Licensing and Copyright. In reviewing the answers and comments, I get the feeling that people generally consider the two to be the ...
27
votes
3answers
7k views

Is it legal to have the “// (c) 2019 John Smith” header in all files when there are hundreds of contributors?

Companies use headers like // Copyright 2011 The Go Authors. But countless projects with a single maintainer have // Copyright 2011 John Smith even though they have hundreds of contributors, all ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Copyright and Contributing to an Open Source Project

I'm a little confused by copyright notices on open source projects. Let's say that a particular project is covered by a very permissive license, such as MIT or BSD. A copyright notice appears from ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

What happens if stolen software is published as Open Source?

This is not a real world issue, at least for me. It is more about a thought experiment from a talk that I once had with a friend: Let's say that Acme develops closed source software for their own ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

Does being open sourced mean others can use my logo?

Suppose I have created an open source application I have also created a snazzy logo to go with the application (for example, the Eclipse logo) I released my application's source code under a ...
17
votes
2answers
415 views

Theseus' Paradox applied to code copyright

Assuming a copyright license (I'll reference Apache 2.0, but that's an example only) that allows derivations, at what point are those derivations so extensive that the Apache license no longer applies?...
16
votes
2answers
165 views

What to do when proprietary code is found in your open source project?

We have an open source project and suspect one contributor has submitted code that is not their own and is under a closed source copyright. We know we have to remove the code. Also I assume anyone ...
15
votes
2answers
175 views

Jurisdictions without compatible copyright law

Free software licences such as GPL depend on copyright law in order to be legally enforcable. Are there jurisdictions in which the law does not enforce such licenses, allowing the license to be ...
14
votes
2answers
10k views

Does the owner of the github repository own the copyright to the code?

Say I'm the only one uploading code to someone's private repository, do they own the copyright to the code? Or do I own the copyright to the code since I wrote it? Would adding a license stating ...
14
votes
2answers
239 views

Must contributor agreements be physically signed?

I've been developing an API internally with a few friends, and hope to expand it and make it open to the broader public. I've highlighted a lot of background in this question, but to recap, it's a ...
13
votes
3answers
198 views

What happens to an open source project when the copyright expires?

With conventional copyright, N years after the author's death the copyright expires (where N varies from country to country). Since free and open source licences are supported legally by copyright law,...
13
votes
2answers
230 views

Is copyright automatic?

If I publish something on my website is a form of copyright automatically placed on that text? For example I know if you specifically say "This is published under [insert some cc license here]" then ...
13
votes
2answers
261 views

Why does the FSF make this recommendation about ranges of copyright years?

In the document “How to use GNU licenses for your own software”, the FSF says: For software with several releases over multiple years, it's okay to use a range (“2008-2010”) instead of listing ...
13
votes
2answers
58 views

Do we need to follow the license for CA certs?

Some OSS projects include CA certificates and claims that they are subject to a particular OSS license. For example the certificates in https://mxr.mozilla.org/mozilla/source/security/nss/lib/ckfw/...
12
votes
1answer
986 views

How to deal with copyright infringement on GitHub

I have a public repository on GitHub. Some of the code was copy-and-pasted into another repository without keeping Licence headers and without any other back-linking to the original repository. How ...
12
votes
1answer
480 views

How do I properly specify the year(s) of copyright?

Most source files start with a copyright header like this (from GNU ld): /* Main program of GNU linker. Copyright 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Removing the original copyright line from footer

There's this web app licensed under GPLv3 that I'd like to deploy. However, the footer of each page has a copyright line, e.g., "© 2015 FooBar Inc.". Is it okay to remove that line and/or replace it ...
11
votes
1answer
153 views

Can I resubmit someone else's pull request if he does not sign CLA?

Someone helped with progress upstream at an open source project I really rely on. He basically did what I was not capable of and now I am waiting for his pull request to be merged and included in ...
11
votes
2answers
5k views

How to apply MIT license in the GitHub repo for fully free project?

I have a public repository for an open source project on GitHub. It's main goal is to make this code available to anybody (including myself) who may what to use it, for free, for all the time, with ...
11
votes
1answer
268 views

Projects which require copyright assignment from contributors?

I read the following in ØMQ - The Guide (in Chapter 6, in the section Licensing and Ownership): All patches are owned by their authors. There SHALL NOT be any copyright assignment process. ...
11
votes
2answers
428 views

“SQLite is illegal in Germany” - really?

This blog post claims in passing that SQLite is illegal, at least in Germany, but potentially worldwide This is tacked onto another mostly-unrelated claim that GitHub's terms of service are ...
10
votes
1answer
139 views

Accidently commited plagiarism, what now?

I maintain an open-source project. Somebody made a pull-request two days ago, and I accepted it. Now I realized, that a large portion of the pull-request is just a copy-pasted from another project (...
10
votes
1answer
304 views

How to deal with licences after forking a project?

I forked a project with an MIT license on GitHub: The MIT License (MIT) Copyright (c) 2012 Some Name Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software ...
10
votes
1answer
270 views

Can a GitHub Organization assert copyright?

I started an OSS project with a fellow coding enthusiast in 2014 (that has since pretty much left the project, although as far as I can tell he's still following everything that's going on). Since the ...
10
votes
1answer
491 views

How should I assert copyright when I'm forking an MIT project?

I have an open source software project licensed under MIT. The MIT License (MIT) Copyright (c) 2016 Håvard Fossli Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any .... I found ...
9
votes
2answers
815 views

So the GPL doesn't restrict the creator of the software in any way?

In another thread I started (Redhat buys Ansible), I am trying to figure out the economic value of a company transaction with respect to GPL'ed software. A few of the answers suggest that the owners ...
9
votes
3answers
552 views

What is the copyright status of Colossal Cave Adventure?

What is the copyright status of the source code of “Adventure” (also known as Colossal Cave Adventure)? There is a good record today of the history of Adventure. Specifically: The 1975–1976 Crowther ...
9
votes
1answer
582 views

Can I modify source code licensed under MIT license without publishing my changes?

Imagine I write a piece of software, which uses some MIT-licensed library. Let's assume that I modified that library. My software (of which that library is part) produces some content, which I sell ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I use an MIT license for code but protect the copyright of photos in my repository?

My project is a fork of a project that comes with the MIT license and nobody wants to change the license that applies to the software. However, some of the content that is also stored on GitHub is not ...
9
votes
1answer
193 views

Does the AGPL help to protect against closed source if the application is run on a remote server and proxied by a separate service?

Note that there is this related question of which this question is by no means a duplicate. It refers to a related but separate scenario. Long question title, I'll just go with an example. Suppose I ...
8
votes
3answers
265 views

Why use licenses? Why not release open source code to public domain?

Why do most open source projects use licenses instead of simply releasing the code into the public domain?
8
votes
5answers
655 views

Acknowledging employer in an open source project

My employer has given me to permission to open source a component of a project that I have been working on, allowing me to retain ownership and control, with the condition that they be acknowledged in ...
8
votes
4answers
501 views

Can a team be the copyright holder (MIT)?

I'm developing in a team of OSS developers and currently my name is specified in all LICENSE files or copyright headers. But, as it's a teamwork instead of writing "Copyright (c) 2017 MY Name" I would ...
8
votes
1answer
245 views

Are licenses licensed or copyrighted?

Suppose I want to modify a license. Say I choose the MIT license: ..to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, ...
8
votes
2answers
192 views

Does an employee have the right to use a CTA?

Most people who work in software development have signed an Intellectual Property Rights Assignment notice whenever they start a new job. The purpose of these assignments is to ensure the employer ...
8
votes
3answers
397 views

Is the MIT license itself copyrighted?

Is the MIT software license itself copyrighted? What about the BSD license? Could a person copy parts of the license or significantly alter the license for their own use? I've searched but wasn't able ...
8
votes
1answer
152 views

Can I remove some copyright holders from headers and replace them by a generic “and contributors”?

The project I'm involved in currently has headers of the following form: The X Development Team Organization A - Organization B - Organization C - Copyright 1999-2018 This file is distributed under ...
8
votes
1answer
147 views

Copyright assignments in Germany

When contributing to some of their projects, the FSF requires you to assign the copyright to your work to the FSF. As I'm German, I'm interested in whether this is compatible with German law. German ...
7
votes
2answers
620 views

GPLv3: Re-Release app under different branding

I have build an open source audiobook player which is licensed under gpl v3. Yesterday someone sent me a mail with the topic 'Violation of source code license' including a link to an app that seems ...
7
votes
2answers
253 views

What license do I apply to my software if parts of its code is derived from MIT licensed open source software?

This is the first time I'm handling licenses and could use some guidance in this matter. I have developed a piece of Java software where parts of the code is derived from different classes licensed ...
7
votes
1answer
106 views

Help with getting permission to open source a small piece of software

If you are an employee, work you do in the course of your job (as opposed to in your spare time) is a "work for hire" and the copyright is by default owned by the company you work for. How do you go ...
7
votes
2answers
193 views

Can I adapt a CC-BY-SA licensed webpage to host rights-reserved copyrighted content?

I think the inverse of What do I need to share if I include CC-BY-SA artwork in my software?. Some webpages, such as Code for America are licensed under CC-BY-SA. If I want to adapt the code for this ...
7
votes
1answer
74 views

Copyright notices and multiple developers

Suppose a big project with GPL license has several developers, most of whom working on a few source files. Is it appropriate/possible that the copyright notice in each source file include only the ...
7
votes
1answer
100 views

DCMA Takedown Notice received for distributing software licensed under Apache 2.0

A browser plugin was removed from one of the app stores last year as it had stopped working, and the author was no longer maintaining it in favor of their standalone desktop apps. I preferred using ...
7
votes
1answer
130 views

Is the text in my open source project under the GPL?

I have an open source project that used to be under the GPL licence (now it has no licence). In this repository I had many short stories. My intention was for the code to be open source but the ...
7
votes
1answer
170 views

Copyright notice must be regularly updated while the project is active?

I started an open source project in 2013, with the LGPL license. I've been regularly working on it for the last four years. Each file includes the standard copyright notice that include the copyright ...
7
votes
1answer
109 views

Is code generated from an interface definition file a derivative work?

Is stub code generated from an IDL file or a protobuf definition file a derivative work? This has come up recently in a developer discussion between several partner companies. Background: We use a ...
6
votes
2answers
292 views

Can a license on a open source product expire?

Background: While I know that copyrights on open source products expire. I have never come across anything regarding licenses, this lead me to ask this question: My Question: Can licenses expire? ...