[legal-discuss] Copyright statements in source

Vishvananda Ishaya vishvananda at gmail.com
Tue Jan 21 18:07:51 UTC 2014

I wonder if we could just replace the copyright lines with a generic statement

Copyright by various authors. See source control for contribution history.

or something to that effect? There has also been concern that the name / email of an author doesn’t make it clear who the copyright owner of the code is. We could allow an optional copyright notice in the commit message to address this.


On Jan 21, 2014, at 9:31 AM, Rich Bowen <rbowen at redhat.com> wrote:

> Stefano suggested that I bring this to the legal-discuss list. I know that this has been discussed in the past, so I don't anticipate a great shift in sentiment, but it seemed worth discussing.
> My full thoughts are on my blog - http://drbacchus.com/copyright-statements-in-source-files - and I know some of you have seen this discussed on the docs mailing list, or seen it on planet.openstack
> Anyways, it has been my experience in Open Source communities that having a copyright statement at the top of a source file can be very off-putting to people who want to contribute to that file, due to the perception that it is "owned" by someone in particular.
> The statement is not necessary: copyright law ensures that contributors have copyright on the content that they author, and git keeps a permanent record of who contributed what. Some folks have claimed (the last time this came up on this list) that the statement was necessary, and this is not the case.
> It's also unscalable - think in terms of 10 years from now when every file potentially lists hundreds of copyright holders - or perhaps only those who saw fit to add their name to the growing list. What would this contribute?
> And if people are contributing solely for recognition - which seems at least part of the motivation for a copyright statement, perhaps 1) they're missing the point of Open Source and 2) we should provide a more public means of thanking the enormous list of contributors, rather than having it scattered across thousands of files that relatively few people will ever see.
> -- 
> Rich Bowen - rbowen at redhat.com
> OpenStack Community Liaison
> http://openstack.redhat.com/
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> legal-discuss at lists.openstack.org
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