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Re: Bug#523093: undetermined copyright/license violation

On Fri, 10 Apr 2009 22:01:17 +0200 Robert Millan wrote:

> On Fri, Apr 10, 2009 at 09:15:39PM +0200, Francesco Poli wrote:
> > On Thu, 09 Apr 2009 20:38:33 -0400 Hubert Figuiere wrote:
> > 
> > [...]
> > > Except that the original files don't have any notice. For those that 
> > > did, the notice has been kept.
> > 
> > In that case, I personally think the safest strategy is including such
> > notice, even though it was not present in the first place.
> This is "getting extreme".

Always extreme!  ;-)

> If the original author didn't bother asserting
> their copyright, why would one have to do it in the modified version?

Because otherwise people reading the modified code would be misled to
think that the entire code was written by one single author.
This would be plain false, as this single person is in fact the
modifier, rather than the only author!

> Consider the situation in which you send a patch for some program, but
> don't add your name in the copyright header.

I tend to do so only when I think the patch is so trivial that it does
not actually add any copyrighted material to the work.
Anyway, I can see your point, since many people seem to be much more
quick in forgetting about copyright notices when sending patches...

> Does this mean every
> redistributor of the program will have to track you down and add the
> missing lines?

No, I don't think so.
A mere re-distributor of a work will just have to check copyright and
permission notices (and license texts) in order to determine whether
he/she has the right to redistribute verbatim copies.

The situation gets more interesting when someone takes a multi-file
software package which has a centralized copyright and permission
notice (rather than detailed copyright information in each file),
extracts one file, modifies it (maybe by translating it into another
language and then making further modifications?) and incorporates the
modified file into his/her own distinct multi-file software package.

In this case, I personally think that the safest and cleanest way to
behave would be as follows: this person should copy the original
copyright/permission notice from the centralized file in the original
package into the modified extracted file and then add his/her
copyright/permission notice.
If the original centralized copyright/permission notice failed to
mention some contributor(s) in the first place, oh well, it's not the
modifier's fault...
But the modifier should include all the copyright information which is
easy to retrieve (i.e.: what is found in the centralized file).


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..................................................... Francesco Poli .
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