[License-discuss] MIT-Clone: Copyright notice

Gil Yehuda gyehuda at verizonmedia.com
Fri Feb 14 18:39:43 UTC 2020

I bet when copyright was first created, the working assumption is that a
work is a relatively static thing. Software is not. And this brings up the Ship
of Theseus <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus> problem (Take a
ship, replace all the boards. at what point is it no longer the same ship?
-- or if you replace the code in my project with your code, when it is no
longer my project?)

SOFTWARE PROJECTS <https://ctlj.colorado.edu/?page_id=796> by Pamela
Chestek (an active member of this list), since she gives a really
interesting account of how we could be thinking about this issue.

Some projects use a generic construction "The FooProject Authors"
Copyright {{.Year}} the {{.ProjectName}} Authors

But US copyright law explains:

the name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which
the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of
the owner.

and 'The FooProject Authors' is not a generally known designation of the
owner. Well, maybe it is. I'm not a lawyer. But I'm with you in not really
knowing the best way to describe the fluid nature of this thing.

As a practical matter, I ran into a situation last week where a team was
fighting about the code -- some members felt that one engineer was taking
their code and using it in ways that were not consistent with their wishes.
At the root of the problem was the concept "their code" since this was a
team effort.

Gil Yehuda: I help with external technology engagement

>From the Open Source Program Office
<https://developer.yahoo.com/opensource/docs/> at Verizon Media

On Fri, Feb 14, 2020 at 7:14 AM Lukas Atkinson <opensource at lukasatkinson.de>

> Yet, this cannot be fixed because the license prohibits it.
> While the MIT license stipulates that “the above copyright notice” shall
> be included, I see nothing that prevents the copyright notice from being
> amended to list additional copyright holders. It seems to be common
> practice to add another line below the original notice.
> It is my (amateur) understanding that copyright notices have very little
> use nowadays since copyright is automatic – it does not have to be asserted
> explicitly. So getting rid* of copyright notices would not be fatal. But
> their remaining use is non-zero, e.g. if jurisdictions have laws against
> falsification of copyright notices or tie some aspects of copyright
> enforceability to the existence of a notice. A license that actively
> discourages copyright notices would be questionable.
> * with “getting rid” in the sense of “not writing new notices”. Existing
> notices must be kept.
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