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From "Daniel F. Savarese" <...@savarese.org>
Subject Re: Updating NOTICE files for previously AL 1.0 contributed code
Date Wed, 14 Apr 2010 20:04:57 GMT

In message <A8D97A63-3BA1-4630-8162-117653195E28@gbiv.com>, "Roy T. Fielding" w
>On Apr 12, 2010, at 9:53 AM, Daniel F. Savarese wrote:
>> Should projects contributed to the ASF under the AL 1.0 which had =
>> copyright statements stripped and do not presently contain an original
>> copyright statement in the NOTICE file after conversion to the AL 2.0
>> have an original copyright statement restored to the NOTICE file?

Thank you for the answer.  That was my original understanding.

>If all you want is to retain credit over time, then you should
>do that in the README or some other form of credits file.

My question has nothing to do with credit.  It stemmed from seeing
the mention of code exiting the ASF being required to preserve an ASF
copyright notice in the NOTICE file when the ASF did not itself
preserve a copyright notice in the NOTICE file yet, based on what
I had seen, appeared to be doing so for projects entering the ASF
under the AL 2.0 (e.g.,
and others).  I was trying to reconcile the inconsistent and seemingly
inequitable treatment.

>There is no motivating legal reason.  Copyright notices are not
>documentation -- they are statements of legal obligations.  We don't
>put them in every file because they can't be updated over time as
>they become inaccurate (and, in most cases, they start out being
>inaccurate because the original coders fail to account for all of
>their own employers, contracts, and copy-n-paste sources).
>The alternative is to have everyone add a notice whenever each
>person (and/or their employer) makes a copyrightable addition to
>a file.  However, since nobody knows how much of a change is
>necessary to be separately "copyrightable", all that will create
>is another source of pointless arguments, ugly code, and hurt feelings.

Thanks for the recap, but I am already aware of all of this.  I
was not asking about copyright notices in individual files nor
about recognizing additions to code after it has entered the ASF.
I was asking about an apparent inconsistent handling of the NOTICE
file between projects originating elsewhere that entered the ASF
under the AL 1.0 (which had no NOTICE file) vs. ones entering
under the AL 2.0.  What I infer from your answer is that projects
that entered the ASF under the AL 2.0 list an original copyright
in the NOTICE file only when the contributor demanded it.  In the
transition from AL 1.0 to AL 2.0, original contributors were not
made aware of the possibility to do so because the ASF sees it
as an additional liability.

As to a possible motivating legal, I was concerned with the
contributor's ability to protect his own copyright in the future if
all records of it were removed.  As Lawrence Rosen has said in the past:

>I caution you, however, against removing or altering copyright statements
>already in the source code. That can affect your later ability to trace the
>provenance of Contributions. It can cause confusion if Contributors seek to
>license that same code to others in addition to their license to ASF. It can
>potentially even affect the Contributors' rights to protect their own
>copyrights in court if they acquiesce in the removal or alteration of their
>copyright statements. (17 USC 405(c)). Why do it? 

>Regardless of the "*very* strong feeling" by ASF members that they want to
>highlight the ASF identity rather than that of the contributors, modifying
>or removing existing copyright notices in source code of contributions is
>not the way to do that. It has the great disadvantage of obscuring the
>provenance of the code, and it can lead to misunderstandings and grievances
>later if contributors should want to use their own code in other ways. No
>matter how adamant the members and board are, it is appropriate for lawyers
>like us to say "you shouldn't be doing that."
>If copyright owners like BEA and IBM acquiesce in the removal of their own
>copyright notices, they may be denying themselves the full protection of the
>copyright law. (See 17 USC 405(e).) And they needn't do so as long as a
>*valid* Apache copyright notice is placed on the entire collective work.
>(See 17 USC 404(a).)

I'd like to make clear I was not asking a frivolous question and am
well aware of what discussions have occurred in the past and have a
valid reason to desire complete disambiguation of ASF policy.
Thank you Roy for clarifying the way things work.


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