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From "Noah Slater (JIRA)" <j...@apache.org>
Subject [jira] [Created] (LEGAL-94) How to list copyright years
Date Tue, 19 Jul 2011 18:14:57 GMT
How to list copyright years
---------------------------

                 Key: LEGAL-94
                 URL: https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-94
             Project: Legal Discuss
          Issue Type: Question
            Reporter: Noah Slater


This question is in relation to the following commit to the Apache CouchDB project:

http://svn.apache.org/viewvc/couchdb/trunk/NOTICE?r1=1148456&r2=1148455&pathrev=1148456

>From the official policy here:

http://www.apache.org/legal/src-headers.html

We have the following sentence:

"The top of each NOTICE file should include the following text, suitably modified to reflect
the product name and year(s) of distribution of the current and past versions of the product"

I would like to seek clarification on this matter.

Firstly, I would argue that from a copyright perspective, you should only put list the most
recent date. Because the copyright applies to the work as a whole, each time you update it,
you are creating a new work. The is no logical reason to list the copyright dates of previous
works, even if they exist as part of a lineage. It could be argued that this information may
be useful for people wanting to know when the copyright expires on previous versions, but
in this scenario, that person can simply download the older releases and check the copyright
information pertinent to that release. Is it acceptable for Apache CouchDB to list only the
most recent year in this file for each release?

If it is not, how should one list the previous years? The changeset above uses the "2009-2011"
syntax, but this seems ambiguous. While you would hope that an Apache project release at least
one a year, there may conceivably be a year when no release is made, which would render this
syntax inaccurate. The FSF's policy on this is to list each year a release was made explicitly.
But this has the unfortunate side-effect of causing the copyright notice to span many lines
as the project matures.

Either way, the wording of the current policy is ambiguous, and I was hoping we could clarify
it.

Sorry for being such a stickler for detail.



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