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Re: GPL & source modification copyright, attributions

On Fri, Feb 04, 2005 at 01:58:26PM -0500, Derek Haines wrote:
> If someone (e.g. John Smith) modifies a source file by adding or
> changing lines of code, do they and/or should they then add a
> copyright notice:
> Copyright (C) 2005 John Smith 
> in addition to my original copyright notice? (Making
> Copyright (C) 2005 Derek Haines
> Copyright (C) 2005 John Smith 
> or some variant available in the same file). 

They can, and some people will say they "should". They are not obliged
to do so, and they are unlikely to gain anything from doing it. It's
just informative.

> Can they remove my original copyright notice? The wording on
> modifcations in the GPL (section 2) doesn't say you can't remove the
> original copyright notice, just that you must add that you changed the
> file and keep references to the license, and through its reference to
> section 1 that you have an "appropriate copyright notice". The
> definition in section 0 of "work based on the program" as in part "any
> derivative work under copyright law" may protect against someone
> removing the original copyright, if there's a provision in the law
> against removing copyright notices. Is there any protection against
> removing prior copyright notices?

You're obliged to retain reasonable copyright notices in derivative
works, for anything that's copyrighted, regardless of license. They do
not have to be in the original form, they just have to be
equivalent. For example, it would be okay to remove the header from
every file, and stick a copy in a single file in the root of the
source tree. It probably wouldn't be okay to put your own copyright
notices in a clearly visible file and hide the others someplace
else. You probably don't have to retain more than the name and date,
so long as the meaning remains clear.

You can remove copyright notices that no longer apply, because the
copyrighted work which they refer to has been removed.

The exact details of when and how you have to do all this vary with
jurisdiction, but they should all approximate the above; you're
unlikely to ever care about the differences.

You may also be obliged to credit the authors. That does vary greatly
with jurisdiction, but it's not really relevant to your question.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
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