72 votes
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How does GitHub's "forking right" cope with an "All rights reserved" project?

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 ...
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49 votes
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If my repository uses a MIT license, can I submit a DMCA takedown for someone who copied it?

I've heard that MIT takes away most copyright This is absolutely not correct; the MIT License (and all other open source licenses) rely on copyright law to be effective. and permits free use The ...
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42 votes
Accepted

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

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

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 (...
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30 votes
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What happens if stolen software is published as Open Source?

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 ...
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29 votes
Accepted

What's the difference between Copyright and Licensing?

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 ...
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  • 1,127
28 votes
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Should I include a copyright line in every file?

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. ...
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  • 4,003
27 votes
Accepted

Who will be the copyright owner of a new file in a forked repository on github?

Your question suggests that you regard copyrights as property rights. This is a completely understandable misconception - big content creators push this agenda quite hard - but it is a misconception. ...
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  • 38.8k
25 votes
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What should I do with the copyright details in a codebase when modifying it when it wasn't forked?

I think this may be one of those cases where people get confused about copyright because they're caught up in the mechanics of github. You have downloaded a copy of a piece of code licensed under MIT, ...
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  • 38.8k
18 votes
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Is copyright automatic?

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 ...
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18 votes

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

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 ...
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  • 6,239
18 votes
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How to deal with licences after forking a project?

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 ...
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  • 5,297
16 votes
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Copyright and Contributing to an Open Source Project

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 ...
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  • 6,715
16 votes

Is there a good license for a libertarian programmer who's against intellectual property?

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 ...
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  • 38.8k
15 votes

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

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 ...
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  • 10.8k
14 votes
Accepted

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

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 ...
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  • 6,239
13 votes
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What happens to an open source project when the copyright expires?

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 ...
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  • 9,006
13 votes

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

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 ...
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  • 8,705
13 votes
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Can I resubmit someone else's pull request if he does not sign CLA?

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 ...
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  • 31.3k
13 votes
Accepted

How to deal with copyright infringement on GitHub

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 ...
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  • 31.3k
13 votes
Accepted

Are there legal reasons blocking the use of Apache 2 License in France

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, ...
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  • 38.8k
13 votes

Does every adaptation of a CC BY-SA work violate its terms?

The usual disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer and this is not personalized legal advice. Am I reading too much into the license, or am I somehow misunderstanding copyright law and how it works with Creative ...
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  • 349
13 votes
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Can a company circumvent the freedom of distribution on GPL software for its employees or service providers?

The GPL FAQ is fairly clear: Is making and using multiple copies within one organization or company “distribution”? No, in that case the organization is just making the copies for itself. As a ...
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  • 31.3k
13 votes
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Can I fork libstdc++ without disclaiming copyright for the modifications I make?

This is not a legal concern, but one of project policy. What this FAQ item says is essentially: if you submit contributions to the GNU project, they will not use them unless you first assign copyright ...
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  • 31.3k
13 votes
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Who owns copyright if I place code in a repository but do not update the copyright notice?

To answer the question in the title of your post: Who owns copyright if I place code in a repository but do not update the copyright notice? You own the copyright in any code you wrote. This is ...
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12 votes
Accepted

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

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 ...
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  • 33.8k
12 votes

Theseus' Paradox applied to code copyright

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 ...
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  • 31.3k
12 votes
Accepted

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

That's not true that a public domain dedication won't protect you, for instance the Unlicense is a public domain dedication but still includes a limitation of warranty. In GitHub's choosealicense.com ...
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  • 5,297
11 votes

Copyright and Contributing to an Open Source Project

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 ...
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