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AW: Re: Copyright notices - update everything to 2006?

From: <kfogel_at_collab.net>
Date: 2006-01-18 18:37:09 CET

I asked Mary Ann Moran, a lawyer at CollabNet, about updating all
source files for 2006, versus just updating the ones that changed in
2006. Here's what she said:

  | Unfortunately, I think I have to say you need to update on a file
  | by file basis. Since each individual source code file has its own
  | copyright, if the work in that particular copyrighted file is not
  | modified in 2006, then there cannot be a 2006 copyright date. It
  | would be a misrepresentation of the copyright date to put 2006 in
  | that situation, for which I am not sure of the legal consequences,
  | but misrepresentation is never good. The date needs to be
  | whatever the year in which the most recent revision occurred.
  | Sorry the answer could not have entailed less hassle.

She also answered the infamous hyphen question once and for all:

  | To give notice that there is previously copyrighted works in the
  | revised works, the notice can state the date of first publication
  | of any of the subversion code, the current year and a hyphen to
  | indicate that revised works in between these dates are copyrighted
  | was well. For example (and I am assuming a 2000 date for first
  | publication of subversion, but it should be the actual date
  | whatever that is) "Copyright 2000-2006, (whomever is the copyright
  | owner)".

So there we have it -- definitive answers. We need speculate no more.

Although Mary Ann doesn't say it explicitly, I think I just realized
why it's legally a Bad Thing to put "2006" in a source file that did
not change in 2006.

Copyright terms are limited (in theory, anyway), and the timer starts
ticking from the date the work was created. For a revised work, i.e.,
a derived work, that is the date of the most recent revision. By
putting some later date in the copyright notice, we would be
fraudulently extending the term of the copyright, holding on to it
longer than the law allows. That obviously can't be right.

(Irrelevant detail: it may be that the timer starts ticking from the
date the work is "published", not "created", I don't know. Heck, I
don't even know what "published" means in the era of the Internet,
except perhaps that the text of the work becomes somehow publicly
available, which I guess would make etymological sense. Anyway, in
our case the creation date and publication date are the same, since
our repository is public, so we don't need to resolve that question.)


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Received on Wed Jan 18 22:51:03 2006

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