[coreboot] Long license headers (ANGER WARNING)

Peter Stuge peter at stuge.se
Wed Mar 4 14:58:48 CET 2015

ron minnich wrote:
> > IANAL (I'm not giving legal advice, yada yada), but I don't think that is
> > how this works. Companies you don't work for can't force you to do X or
> > prevent you to do Y with their files.
> Copyright statements are pretty complicated, and I am not sure you are
> right. I am afraid I can't take your advice ;-)
> You can change the code. But the copyright statement is pretty clear
> that you can't remove the copyright.

Copyright is one thing, licensing is a very different thing.

I haven't gotten the impression that anyone is suggesting to remove
or even change any copyright notices.

Copyright documents authorship (like git does too) but says nothing
about licensing terms.

The discussion is about having a uniform and short way to express the
license terms for individual files.

> Consider the simplest case: change the copyright to say V3 instead of V2.
> Would that be acceptable?

You are confusing copyright with licensing here. Copyright is a year
and an author. Those do not change.

Licensing terms can be changed with permission of the author. But if
an author contributed code licensed as GPLv2 then the license can not
be changed to v3 without the author's permission. How to document such
permission is a different discussion.

However, if the author has contributed code licensed as GPLv2 then
anyone who has that code can do, at a minimum, everything that the
license permits them to do.

Since the license header text is also covered by the license,
replacing it with an equivalent seems completely unproblematic to me.

> Generally you're supposed to take the text in the copyright as given and
> not change it. Certainly older coreboot code with US Gov't copyright made
> that clear.

Copyright yes of course.

Licensing is orthogonal.

> I've had it stated pretty clearly to me by people who are lawyers that
> it's a very bad idea to start rearranging copyright statements.

If they are the source of your confusion between copyright and
licensing they probably shouldn't be giving advice on this topic


More information about the coreboot mailing list