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Re: Copyright vs Open Source

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Copyright vs Open Source
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2008 22:31:35 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux)

Mike Jervis <> writes:

> I'm involved in an open source project. Licenced under the GPL for the
> most part, but odd pieces are under other licences for historic
> reasons. ZLIB for example.
> We have recently had a fork, a new project has spun off. Which is fine
> and health etc.
> However, I'm a little disconcerted to see that they have batch
> processed all source code and claimed copyright to all files, with a
> note that it's "based on" work from the original project which was
> copyright by {list of original authors}.

The way you are describing it sounds like they are changing a copyright
notice to an attribution.  Not the same thing.  Attributions are more or
less a courtesy (so downstream users may decide to remove them
altogether).  Batch processing does not remove a copyright.

> My gut feeling is that this is wrong (especially since actually
> they've posted copyright 2002-2008 and the fork happened in 2008.) but
> there's probably nothing to be done about it.

They can't claim copyright for years previous to any contributions of

> I guess I'm just miffed that they appear to be claiming copyright for
> source modules to which I am the copyright holder.
> Opinions?

They can claim copyright for portions they wrote.  The copyright notice
would then read

Copyright (c) 2002-2008 Mike Jervis
Copyright (c) 2008 Gully wiz

They may add other qualifications, like

Portions of this file were created by processing material
Copyright (c) 2002-2008 Mike Jervis

Something like that.  They should write stuff in a manner that makes it
clear that your copyright is still valid on the current code.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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