Open Source Answers: Can a team be a copyright holder?

Open Source Answers

By Philippe Ombredanne April 14, 2017

Open Source Answers

Open Source Stack Exchange is an open discussion site for users to ask and answer questions about the marketing, licensing, and development of open source projects. Philippe Ombredanne answers one question on Open Source Stack Exchange: "Can a team be a copyright holder?" This user asks about the legality of writing Copyright (c) 2017 The Team Name rather than Copyright (c) 2017 MY Name in license files or copyright headers to give proper credit to the entire team.

It is completely acceptable and rather common to establish a shared copyright using this format. For example, "this is commonly used (with a BSD license) for Chromium that uses a copyright notice of Copyright (c) The Chromium AUTHORS." This simple solution is easier to use so that not every contributor has to add his or her name to every single file that is modified. Rather, the VCS history and/or an AUTHORS file can keep track of the contributors. Long copyright notices can be difficult to parse with long, stacked, multilines and multiholders copyright statements. Overall, concise copyright statements will be beneficial for your team and for your users.

To ask your own Open Source question or read Philippe’s full answer with additional tips, visit Open Source Stack Exchange.

About the author: Philippe Ombredanne

Philippe is one of the top users on the Open Source Stack Exchange board. He is an avid free, libre and open source software enthusiast, contributor and activist. He is the CTO at nexB and a contributor and committer on several FLOSS projects. Meet more of the nexB team here.

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