[gst-devel] Copyright headers need updating

Andy Wingo wingo at pobox.com
Tue Jan 24 02:33:03 CET 2006

Hi Erik,

On Mon, 2006-01-23 at 12:56 -0800, Erik Walthinsen wrote:
> I've been noticing a lot of files in CVS still list a copyright year of 
> 1999 with my ancient OGI email address.  I'm thinking that should 
> probably be updated.... ;-)

The funny thing is when people make a new file they just copy over
everything from some other one to get boilerplate ;)

> I've seen a lot of projects using "xyz Team" as the copyright, with an 
> address that either is an alias to the team lead[s] or maybe a mailing 
> list or something.  I'm not sure what the legal ramifications of listing 
> copyright as that ficticious entity, but otherwise it makes sense.
> Thoughts?

>From http://www.gnu.org/prep/maintain/html_node/Copyright-Notices.html,
the FSF has something reasonable to say about this:

        [I]f contributors are not all assigning their copyrights to a
        single copyright holder, it can easily happen that one file has
        several copyright holders. Each contributor of nontrivial text
        is a copyright holder. 

        In that case, you should always include a copyright notice in
        the name of main copyright holder of the file. You can also
        include copyright notices for other copyright holders as well,
        and this is a good idea for those who have contributed a large
        amount and for those who specifically ask for notices in their
        names. (Sometimes the license on code that you copy in may
        require preserving certain copyright notices.) But you don't
        have to include a notice for everyone who contributed to the
        file (which would be rather inconvenient). 

I think that it is important to be strict with copyright issues. This is
not that difficult, given that the FSF considers just a couple names to
be sufficient, perhaps with a pointer to the ChangeLog for more detailed

Alternately we could say "Copyright 1999,2000,2001,2002,2004,2005,2006
Hacker A, Hacker B, and others. See the ChangeLog for all authors." We
probably don't need to include emails there, if we point people to the

I think it's a bad idea to say "the GStreamer team" without defining
what that is. One might imagine a situation in which some organization
takes control of GStreamer, a few years in the future, and then decides
that as the GStreamer team that they would like to relicense. Explicit
acknowledgement that the code is copyrighted by individuals helps
protect our freedom.

Andy Wingo

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