RFC: Test::Copyright

Andrew Suffield asuffield at suffields.me.uk
Tue Jun 14 07:22:07 BST 2011

On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 07:37:00AM +0200, Philip Newton wrote:
> Also, I'm not sure why the copyright statements in individual files
> need to match the general copyright statement - if a given submodule
> was last updated in 1997 and was stable since then, then I would
> expect it to have a copyright of (say) "Copyright (C) E. X. Ample
> 1995-1997", and not to find "2011" in the copyright line just because
> a new version of the module was released that modified other files in
> the package - hence giving a copyright of (say) "Copyright (C) E. X.
> Ample 1995-1999, 2005-2011" for the entire thing.

The whole thing is completely unnecessary. It's a historical habit
that refuses to go away, and it's not even ours. The presence and form
of copyright statements was necessary in the US prior to 1989, when
they signed the Berne convention after a century of dithering.

The Berne convention explicitly disallows these statements having any
significance - copyright is universal and automatic. The things stick
around because lawyers don't see "it's a pointless waste of time" as a
reason to stop doing something. They usually give a fairly vague
argument about it being a deterrent and discouraging defenses based on
"I didn't know", and then fall back on "Why not include it just to be
safe? You want to be safe don't you? Where's the harm?"

Double irony: the US notice requirement was for the word 'Copyright' or
the C-in-circle symbol, but (C) was never an acceptable substitute.

None of this has ever been relevant in the UK.

I leave you with a copy of /bin/true from Solaris:

#       Copyright (c) 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 AT&T
#         All Rights Reserved

#       The copyright notice above does not evidence any
#       actual or intended publication of such source code.

#ident  "@(#)true.sh    1.6     93/01/11 SMI"   /* SVr4.0 1.4   */

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