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Let's say three coders write a program and want to release it under the MIT license. How should the copyright notice look like? I have something like this in mind:

Copyright (c) 2017 Alice, Bob, Cassandra

Or should it be more like this:

Copyright (c) 2017 Alice

Copyright (c) 2017 Bob

Copyright (c) 2017 Cassandra

Or completely different?

  • I don't think there's any way for more than one party to own the copyright of a single work, other than to create a partnership or other shared legal entity, which then becomes the single party. It might be tempting to think that another approach would be to let each party own copyright in their own contributions, but that becomes hopelessly complicated as soon as Alice contributes a bug fix to a code file that was created by Bob. – phoog Feb 2 '17 at 17:50
  • @phoog joint copyright is not only possible, its common and it works in both ways you suggest depending on the work - there is a Q&A about it on this site. – Dale M Feb 2 '17 at 19:50
  • @phoog found it law.stackexchange.com/questions/9035/… – Dale M Feb 2 '17 at 19:52
  • @DaleM so how should the notice look like? The author of the linked question used a third alternative, "Copyright (c) 2017 Alice and Bob and Cassandra" – pfo Feb 3 '17 at 11:00
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If Alice, Bob, and Cassandra are working on the program and releasing it as a joint work, the copyright statement should reflect it:

Copyright (c) 2017 Alice, Bob, Cassandra

If, on the other hand, Bob and Cassandra are taking advantage of the "modify" clause of the MIT license to create derivative works, the copyright statements are required by the license to be separate:

Copyright (c) 2017 Alice

Copyright (c) 2017 Bob

Copyright (c) 2017 Cassandra

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