I vehemently disagree

Story: Copyright statements proliferate inside open source codeTotal Replies: 2
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Feb 04, 2014
11:19 AM EDT
As the author of more than 200,000 lines of Open Source environmental modeling code, I vehemently disagree. In my experience it is extremely important to have all the attributions and copyright statements present (they should immediately follow the license-statement IMNHO). More than once this has kept code I have written as OpenSource from being taken over by BigCo or (especially) BigUniversity.

And I find the Apache Foundation idea of stripping out attribution reprehensible. Again, over the last twenty years I have seen too many instances of others trying to steal credit for work this way.

I notice in news this last month that I am in agreement with Linus Torvalds, who said that having an extremely-shared copyright is useful for an OpenSource project for just this reason: it keeps others from stealing the project and closing it up.

Feb 04, 2014
2:09 PM EDT
I was a bit confused by the article. It seems to me that all source code files should have a copyright notice at the top, even if it is to declare it Public Domain. The article then goes on to talk about modifications and additional contributions. I'm not an expert but it seems to me that slight modifications and enhancements are not generally significant enough in themselves to deserve any distinct copyright protection. Most major open source projects however, do have some rules regarding copyright the copyright of contributed files. I would also add that there is a distinction between copyright attribution (the author of a significant contribution) and the type of license. For GPL code and public domain contributions, the attribution is fairly academic anyway since you're making a permissive declaration as to usage. However, it is fairly common to have an overriding license for a project and all the code within it and have different attributions.

Feb 04, 2014
4:30 PM EDT
The point is in what you could call "line item contributions," not complete code, but (significant) updates and bug fixes which the contributors do not want co-opted or "privatized." I have to agree with cjcoats here. People who want to "steal" code might use the lack of a copyright notice as wiggle room to take contributions for themselves. While the original copyright terms might apply,... Those who want to steal the code and privatize it might use the lack of copyright notice as rationalization to do so... The legality is questionable, but worse things have happened when wiggle room was present (like people being able to patent computer programs in the first place...).

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