64

First of all, these two statements are made in sequence, not parallel (credit to MSalters for crystallizing this point): Generally speaking, the absence of a license means that the default copyright laws apply. ...if you publish your source code in a public repository on GitHub... you allow others to view and fork your repository. The first ...


38

As far as I am aware, all FLOSS licenses that deal with copyright notices only require the preservation of notices that exist. Each author had the opportunity to add their own name to header when they made their contribution. If they chose not to do so, there is no existing notice from that author to preserve. There is never (as far as I know) any ...


23

I think it's important to include both copyright and licensing information in all files: it ensures that everyone's rights are perfectly clear, regardless of what happens to the code in the future. Your project may be small and self-contained initially, but it often happens that interesting code ends up copied into multiple projects, or that projects get ...


21

I have done a thorough IP review on my own project in 2007. You can find some info about this project in this slide deck: Startup Legal and IP. I encountered many situations that are similar to what you describe, although none of them were "criminal." These are some examples. Example 1: code that was proprietary to SUN, later open source by SUN under a ...


21

Putting software under the GPL does not mean abandoning ownership? Absolutely not. In nations signatory to the Berne Convention, copyright is the default, which means by default only the author (or current copyright holder, if the original author transfers the copyright) may reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, etc. The author of a work may use ...


20

Copyright is the legal term used to declare and prove who owns the intellectual property (the code, text, etc.). Licensing is the legal term used to describe the terms under which people are allowed to use the copyrighted material. You can think of it in terms of physical property, if you want, the copyright is like the "deed" to a house. It says you own ...


18

Copyright is automatic in all countries that have ratified the Berne convention. That's most of them. Copyright applies to any creative work. The interpretation of creative work is pretty broad. For example a mugshot isn't creative work but any photo that involves even the slightest attention to posing, light, choice of subject, etc. is a creative work. A ...


14

Well, you actually give up a few rights by accepting the terms of service. The terms of service declare: However, by setting your pages to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view your Content. By setting your repositories to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view and fork your repositories. So effectively you don't have ...


14

When you put code on GitHub, you retain all the copyright to your code. However, you do grant GitHub a license to host the code, and you also allow GitHub users a set of rights - namely the ability to look at, and fork your repository. These are terms that you have accepted when accepting their Terms of Service when creating a GitHub account. Even when you ...


12

The copyright on the combined work expires when the most recent part of the individual copyrights expires (in the US generally life + 70 years of the last author) and the project would enter the public domain. Older parts of the project enter the public domain before the newer parts, and with that, the combined work do. It's possible for a combined work to ...


12

The answer is actually pretty complicated. Public Domain isn't a thing everywhere This may be surprising, but in many jurisdictions, the concept of the public domain doesn't exist. Even for jurisdictions where it does exist, it varies. Some jurisdictions enforce the right to attribution, even for works in the public domain. Some governments might even ...


12

This depends in part on what the CLA requires, but it may be possible. Do you have the ability to reuse the submission at all? In general, it's understood that contributions to an open source project are offered under the same license as the project at large. In particular, the text of Apache License 2.0 makes this explicit: Submission of ...


12

Anyone may use the software for any purpose they choose ... However, no one may place any type of restrictions on my software Your basic problem is that these are self-contradictory aims. In the context of modern copyright law, the receipt of freedoms doesn't automatically require you to extend them to others. If you don't want to allow people to take ...


11

This is where the problem (or advantage) of multiple copyright owners comes in with open projects. There are two scenarios, based on whether a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA) is required to contribute to the project. If a CTA is required to make contributions, then the issue is moot as the organization running the project becomes the copyright holder. ...


11

The two fragments you've highlighted contradict each other. The real question is: What will the courts make out of this, if a fork happens, and the original author decides to sue? I am not going to predict the outcome of such a conflict. The court may decide the law is superior to the click-wrap of GitHub's TOS, or vice versa. Nobody will know the answer ...


11

Forking and rebranding is allowed by most open-source licenses as long as they satisfy the terms of the license like: retain your copyright notices; bundle the license; credit the contributors; ship source for all modified components; etc. If they have modified or removed your copyright headers, avoided mentioning the contributions, only ship binaries not ...


11

One clarifying point: there is usually a legal obligation to keep original copyright notices with original license headers and texts. There is not usually a legal obligation to "link back" -- this doesn't generalize to projects that aren't distributed online, and would impose ambiguous obligations if the project moved network locations, etc. The first ...


10

Logos are a special case that reside in the creative domain covered by copyright, and the domain of trademarks related to identity. The logo itself, the style, colour, etc are usually a result of a creative process. This is usually what you can copyright. The logo denominating your product, company, etc, is what you can trademark. So to prevent someone from ...


10

If the software is in the public domain, it is effectively free of copyright, and you are free to release a derivative work under any license you want. If it's not, you don't have a license to publish any derivative work. The oldest existing code for Adventure seems to be from 1976, and a lot was added in 1977. In 1976/7, the copyright act of 1976 was not ...


10

Yes, a license, or terms of service, are eligible for copyright. The GPL itself, for example, is not available under a free license. Your question is specifically about the MIT/expat license. This is a very simple license, and there are only so many ways you can express an idea in, especially in legalese. When making a new license based on another one, ...


10

The text of the format “Copyright years authors” or similar is a copyright notice which was required by US copyright law until 1989 for copyright protection to apply to a work. Under the Berne Convention, copyright is automatic, and no notice is required. However, this notice still contains the answers to two important questions: When was the software ...


10

No, you are not allowed to change the copyright notice. Indeed, the license text states pretty clearly: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. But you are allowed to add a copyright notice. If you want to keep the MIT license, which is what I would advise you to do, ...


10

Many projects do this, typically with the help of a CLA (Contributor License Agreement). Possible reasons for doing this (there might be more): The project owner can change the license without having to ask every contributor for permission. This includes multi-licensing. And it would even be possible to make it proprietary. The project owner can legally ...


10

I would not expect that Rubberduck VBA, as an unincorporated organization that lacks legal personhood, is an entity that can own a copyright (though this may vary by jurisdiction). Furthermore, unless you and the other authors performed a transfer of title to Rubberduck VBA, the copyright of each contribution would remain owned by it's original author. ...


9

A notable exception to your "every contributor retains copyright in their own contributions": Many large projects use a Contributor License Agreement that specifies that copyright for contributed code is transferred from the code's author to the project/organization.


9

By default under international copyright law, all copyright is owned by the person who wrote the code (or owned by the company they work for if they are an employee, or owned by the client who hired them if they are a subcontractor). With open source projects, there can be dozens or hundreds or even thousands of people who own copyright on a project. This ...


9

Sadly, there is little you can do. I believe you can argue that you accepted the code in good faith, and avoid the worst. Try to collect and organize any evidence of the affair (emails, commit identifiers, ...). Keep a copy of the current version control system contents around. To replace the tainted code, you can see if you can set different objectives (...


9

In the United States, a determination of copyright infringement is based on two broad considerations: the author's access to the original work the new work's similarity to the original work If you choose to re-implement some software without ever viewing its source code, then you can nullify the first consideration and avoid infringement (provided you can ...


9

French courts definitely don't have a problem with licences in foreign languages. Two French courts (a lower court and the court of appeal) have upheld the GPL, which is not written in French. (Yes, translations are available, but the FSF makes clear that they are for unofficial guidance only, and that only the English-language original has legal force.) ...


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