Individual authors recognition

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Thu Jun 5 11:01:41 UTC 2008

I don't think this exists in any license for a good reason: the license is
there to fix the conditions assosciated to the use and distribution of a
software covered by the copyright; of course the autors are normally the
copyright owners, but laws in almost all countries recognize that authors
working for an organization are transfering their copyright to the copmpany
employing them to do their work, and they are paid for that.
In addition many work contracts in IT are specifying explicitly that the
employees can't assign themselves a copyright for a work they've done during
the time they are employed and under contract, even if they work at home in
their free time, without prior authorization, except if their own work is
completely unrelated to their activity in the company. There's a reason for
that: the employee, when he's employed, has a large access to the technology
owned or used by the company and could use it to create a competitive offer,
without supporting the charges normally needed to support these creations.
However, some countries are still granting appropriate credits to authors
when they work in a company. This is not part of the copyright and licensing
schemes, but part of the moral right (which is almost not recognizd in US
and countries with custom law), however it is well known in the area of
scientific publications. Such right is generally part to protect employees
from abuse by their hierarchy, when they don't benefit of the advantage of
what they've done in terms of reputation, and evolution of job positions and
salaries or other advantages (like primes).
So this autor's right is better covered by the right of workers (and their
unions), but you have to remamber that this is not an automatic right: it is
still negociatable either within the contract between the worker and the
organizarion employing him, or within the internal regulation negociated in
the organiztion by worker representants, or by a policy negociated in a
branch to which the organization applies to. There are various legal systems
involved here depending on countries, but outside the domain of publications
and artistic creations where authors are named (and part of the product
itself covered by its licence because this adds a value to the product
itself) this is generally not written within licenses themselves.
But nothing forbids anyone to include, in a licence a statement requiring to
give and maintain credits to authors and forbid reattributions (even if the
copyright itself remains to the organization employing the author). But in a
cooperative work where others are contributing to your creation, if you
require that all participants give credit to their effective authors, this
will restrict organizations to participate when their employees are normally
not named: they don't want a public association between the name, reputation
and responsability of the organization and the name, reputation and
responsability of his worker in a contract or license whose effect will have
a much longer term (possibly unlimited) than the work contract itself.
Final note: the author name, used as a reference for a creation, may be
covered by another right: the right of trademarks. This is common in the
artistic domain, but it exists in almost all domains giving value to the
excellence of a work. By monetizing their names as a trademark, the authors
get additional funds but the name becomes transferable, just like the right
of usage and distribution covered by licenses and copyright.
May be what you're looking for is the Artistic License.


De : Xavier Grehant [mailto:xavier.grehant at] 
Envoyé : mercredi 4 juin 2008 16:14
À : license-discuss at
Objet : Individual authors recognition

Is there a license that forces distributions AND the copyright holder to
acknowledge the authors of the initial work?

The authors may be different from the copyright holder. Typically the
copyright holder is their organization. Other people in the organization
should not be able to present the work as their own.

I know if this happens this is a problem with the organization. Ideally,
employees of an organization work together for a common goal. The best way
to make this happen in the facts is to make sure they are individually
recognized for their work. In addition, sometimes the authors intervene in
the license choice. If they have a way to protect themselves, they will use

The idea would be something like the zlib/libpng license but I'm wondering about
the scope of the zlib/libpng license. Do its restrictions also apply to the
copyright holder, and anybody acting on behalf of the copyright holder?

The copyright holder may always in a new version remove information about
the initial authors and change the license. Does it make the problem


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