Sujita Purushothaman sujita at
Fri Oct 25 01:06:23 UTC 2002

John Cowan wrote:


> The GNU GPL (clause 1) explicitly says:
> # 1.  You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source
> # code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously
> # and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice
> # and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to
> # this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other
> # recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.

> So you are not "100% free" to remove the copyright notice.  Indeed, you
> are 0% free to do so.

According to the GPL, the copyright belongs to the FSF. So, if I were to follow
the letter of the law and keep only the copyright notice, credits to the original

author wouldn't appear anywhere on the source code. Am I right?

The FSF website is a bit confusing too. Here's what it says :

Qn : I want to get credit for my work. I want people to know what I wrote. Can I
still get credit if I use the GPL?

      You can certainly get credit for the work. Part of releasing a program
the GPL is writing a copyright notice in your own name
(assuming you are the copyright holder). The GPL requires all copies to carry
an appropriate copyright notice.

Qn : Why does the FSF require that contributors to FSF-copyrighted programs
assign copyright to the FSF? If I hold copyright on a
GPL'ed program, should I do this, too? If so, how?

      Our lawyers have told us that to be in the best position to enforce the GPL

in court against violators, we should keep the copyright
status of the program as simple as possible. We do this by asking each
to either assign the copyright on his contribution to the
FSF, or disclaim copyright on it and thus put it in the public domain.

We also ask individual contributors to get copyright disclaimers from their
employers (if any) so that we can be sure those employers won't
claim to own the contributions.

Of course, if all the contributors put their code in the public domain, there is
no copyright with which to enforce the GPL. So we encourage
people to assign copyright on large code contributions, and only put small
changes in the public domain.

If you want to make an effort to enforce the GPL on your program, it is probably
a good idea for you to follow a similar policy. Please contact
<licensing at> if you want more information.

So,who has the copyright ? The author or the FSF?


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