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From "Lawrence Rosen (Commented) (JIRA)" <j...@apache.org>
Subject [jira] [Commented] (LEGAL-124) Are license headers really mandatory in every source file?
Date Sun, 12 Feb 2012 21:10:59 GMT

    [ https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-124?page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels:comment-tabpanel&focusedCommentId=13206518#comment-13206518

Lawrence Rosen commented on LEGAL-124:

Craig Russell wrote:
> IMHO this JIRA is not the place to re-argue whether we need a copyright notice
> in every file. That is a resolved issue as of 2006. To reopen it I'd suggest legal internal.

FWIW, I'm -0 on your suggestion. But since, with the Berne Convention, the U.S. has eliminated
most formalities associated with copyright, whatever copyright notices you omit won't generally
matter, I'll not obstruct progress on this JIRA Legal-124. 

For the record, I'll make 4 additional comments:

1. The question actually posed by this JIRA Legal-124 is: "Are license headers really mandatory
in every source file." You are now narrowing the question to discuss specifically non-source
files. You make unwelcome assumptions about the relationship between "creativity" and "source
file". The terms "distraction" and "performance issues" are (perhaps intentionally?) vague.
So I am not convinced that you have actually answered the question asked. How will you proceed
to document your decision precisely?

2. The legal value of a copyright notice, while slight, is not zero. See 17 USC 401(d) {"Evidentiary
Weight of Notice"].

3. Craig said he agrees that "the Statement is intended as a service to our downstream consumers...."
Yet nobody here has discussed what policy *our downstream consumers* might prefer. Who here
speaks for them? I will note that many consumers of Apache software ultimately run application
security validators (such as Black Duck or Palamida), and without copyright notices they will
know virtually nothing about those "source files"; I represent clients who rely on copyright
notices to understand the provenance of the code and data that they use.

4. I agree in general with the "stare decisis" philosophy, and Apache decisions taken in 2006
must be given respect. But I was not a member in those days, and I participated only in general
discussions about this at ASF but then I was not welcomed to participate in that decision.
I remember arguing very strongly then that copyright notices in source code ought to be both
preserved and diligently written. For example, my own OSL 3.0 license contained the following

   You must retain, in the Source Code of any Derivative Works that You create,
   all copyright, patent, or trademark notices from the Source Code of the Original 
   Work, as well as any notices of licensing and any descriptive text identified therein
   as an "Attribution Notice." You must cause the Source Code for any Derivative Works
   that You create to carry a prominent Attribution Notice reasonably calculated to inform
   recipients that You have modified the Original Work.

So although you shouldn't expect me to support the 2006 Apache decision simply because it
was then decided, nor will I object to your continuing to apply that decision in your response
to this JIRA Legal-124.

> Are license headers really mandatory in every source file?
> ----------------------------------------------------------
>                 Key: LEGAL-124
>                 URL: https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-124
>             Project: Legal Discuss
>          Issue Type: Question
>            Reporter: ant elder
> The Release FAQ says "Every source file must contain the appropriate ASF License text."
> The question often comes up if that really means MUST and if it means every single file
in SVN or with a source distribution when a release is being made. 
> I can't find any links now but thought i remember being told some years ago on legal-discuss
was that the top level LICENSE file covers everything anyway so the individual license headers
aren't strictly necessary especially for source files without significant IP. Could we get
a opinion here on if thats true? So for example things like short README files perhaps don't
need a license header or files without significant IP where the header can be problematic
for some reason.
> Any opinions here either way?

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