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  1. Request For Comments
  2. RFC-45

Process for maintaining Copyright information in DM source code



    • Type: RFC
    • Status: Implemented
    • Resolution: Done
    • Component/s: DM
    • Labels:
    • Location:
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      Purpose: Adopt the most lightweight (from the point of maintenance) copyright process for software written in construction that is still compatible with our contractual obligations and open source principles.

      Proposal for default practice:

      1. Each file has a header that says “See COPYRIGHT file at the top of the source tree”.

      2. The COPYRIGHT file is considered a template file, with sections of it replaceable by robots.

      3. The copyright file has a line per institution that contributed to the code, in a date range eg.

      Copyright University of Waterloo (2012-2015)

      4. If people from two institutions are making substantial contributions to that code, they add their institution to the copyright line.

      Copyright University of Waterloo and AURA/LSST (2012-2015)

      5. Additional boilerplate will be included in the COPYRIGHT file reflecting the AURA/LSST-institution contractual arrangements (specifically perpetual license to AURA/LSST to modify and redistribute)

      6. Requirement of developers: Use your institutional email address for commits

      7. Requirement on SQuaRE: Insert template into repos. Periodically update the end date of the notice and run a simple check to make sure the list of intitutions is consistent (eg a file has a UW line if all the commits are from people with UW addresses). Scan for non-institutional emails in the commits (eg. people pushing with their gmail address).

      8. This is in the default process for "normal" work. If someone is developing code that they are worried is of commercial value or other concerns that require a more defensive process, they are free to engage in more heavyweight processes such as including copyright statements in every file. They would undertake to maintain that non-default process.
      Note that the construction contracts do not require copyright assignment to AURA/LSST and we will not require copyright assignment from open source contributors.

      #6 is the most significant as VCS information can legally be used to resolve disputed claims.

      Background (skip if you’re fine with the above):

      • Many conventions on copyright in open source come from FSF guidance for GPL-license source but that has been drawn for specific situations that are not a particular worry to us (e.g. commercial parties subverting open source code).
      • Once again we are guided by the Software Freedom Law Center



      Copyright is implicit (it does not need to be asserted). A central Copyright file notice is therefore sufficient in cases where it is unlikely that a file can be separated form its source tree. The Version Control system is considered adequate proof of individual contributions.


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              frossie Frossie Economou
              frossie Frossie Economou
              Brian Van Klaveren, Frossie Economou, Jeff Kantor, Jim Bosch, John Parejko, John Swinbank, Jonathan Sick, Kian-Tat Lim, Robert Lupton, Russell Owen, Tim Jenness, Wil O'Mullane, Xiuqin Wu [X] (Inactive)
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