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Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2023 14:27:35 +0300
Subject: Re: Copyright years

On Fri, Jan 13, 2023 at 06:39:15AM +0100, Markus Wichmann wrote:

> To my knowledge, the copyright notices are entirely unnecessary.

As far as I understand, this is only true in the sense "even if there's no
copyright notice, you can legally achieve all the same as if the notice was
there".  But this is not the only sense possible.

> Therefore the copyright notice serves little purpose beyond naming the
> author, but you have a separate complete list of authors. So as far as
> I'm concerned, you may as well remove it entirely.

There's one little point: the author and the copyright holder are not
necessarily the same person/entity.  In case of musl, it is exactly so,
but it isn't always the case.  Often the copyright belongs to the company
for which the authors work, and, to get the things right, almost all the
code of the official GNU/FSF projects belongs to FSF, it's their policy
not to accept any contributions unless the contributor signs the copyright
transfer form (well... it's not that I like it, but it's the reality).

So the copyright notice serves the purpose of informing the public that,
yes, the people who wrote the thing (the authors) are the copyright holders
as well.  Removing the copyright notice will not perhaps change the legal
status of the code in any way, but it may lead to confusion for people
concerned about legal issues.

The copyright years in the notice are there for a purpose, too.  I'm not a
lawyer, but as far as I see the situation: copyrights change their owners
sometimes (e.g. when someone buys a copyright).  Now imagine you've got the
same copyrighted work published in different years by different publishers,
and you see two different copyright holders.  The year in the notice helps
to figure out which one is in effect.

To get it short: copyright notices don't change anything in legal sense,
but they serve as important informers, and they cost next to nothing; so
they _may_ be removed, yes, bui I think they _shouldn't_ be removed.


> The US has copyright registration, but it is not necessary to register a
> work to gain copyright. Rather, registration is a prerequisite for a
> lawsuit for copyright infringement. And in such a lawsuit, the plaintiff
> gets statutory damages only if the infringement occurred after
> registration.

are you sure with this?  It contradicts with my understanding.  E.g. FSF
pays a lot of attention to their licenses but I have never heard they
recommend anyone to register their copyrights.  Copyright registration
exists in many countries but it only makes it easier to prove for the court
that the copyright is in effect; but there are always other ways to prove
it.  For example, for any officially published book the book itself is a
perfect proof.  I'm not a lawyer however and definitely not a US lawyer, so
I may be wrong.


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