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Re: Copyright notices

From: Nick Roberts
Subject: Re: Copyright notices
Date: Sun, 31 Jul 2005 12:36:42 +1200

 >     I will do the lisp/progmodes directory (probably sometime next week).
 > Thanks.
 > I think we should redo every file according to the new legal advice.

It occurs to me that if there isn't a release until 2006 (or later!) then all
the files will need to be changed again.  Now that the legal advice suggests a
straightforward solution perhaps this process could (ultimately) be scripted.

Given that the copyright seems to apply to Emacs as a whole:

"Our lawyer says it is ok if we add, to each file that has been in Emacs
 since Emacs 21 came out in 2001, all the subsequent years.  We don't
 need to check whether *that file* was changed in those years.
 It's sufficient that *Emacs* was changed in those years (and it was!).

perhaps all files could display the _same_ copyright notice (apart from
comment delimiters) for the period from the start of Emacs (1985?) to the

Currently emacs/admin/notes/years has the above paragraph and notes from our
earlier uninformed discussions.  I think the latter should be removed and
(some of it contradicts the paragraph) and some statement about partial dates
e.g 1994,95,96,97 and periods e.g 2001-2004 could be added.  Ideally the file
should really be written by a lawyer if thats possible.

I am somewhat surprised that the FSF doesn't aleady have clear guidelines
about copyright notices for GNU projects and Free Software in general.
Currently, if I start GDB from CVS, I get:

> nickrob/39 src/gdb/gdb
> GNU gdb
> Copyright 2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
> GDB is free software, covered by the GNU General Public License, and you are
> welcome to change it and/or distribute copies of it under certain conditions.
> Type "show copying" to see the conditions.
> There is absolutely no warranty for GDB.  Type "show warranty" for details.
> This GDB was configured as "i586-pc-linux-gnu".
> (gdb) 

Not only is the year wrong but it seems to suggest that everything before 2004
is not copyrighted.  I don't pretend to understand these issues but it seems
like we could be giving away the family silver.


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