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Re: Collapsing copyright year lists to ranges

From: Karl Berry
Subject: Re: Collapsing copyright year lists to ranges
Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 23:54:05 GMT

    it's OK to use a range even though the years previously listed in the file 
    had some intermediate years missing?

Hi Joseph -- back in January, you asked about when it's ok to collapse
copyright years into ranges.  I answered at the time, but it's only now
that I've put together a revised text for maintain.texi.  I hope this is
clearer.  The goal here is not to change the rules in any way, of
course, but to clarify what has been the intent all along, despite the
rather convoluted description.

I haven't committed it yet.  If any questions or suggestions, let me


The year list should include each @dfn{copyrightable year}.  When the
package sources are maintained in publicly accessible revision control
server, by definition every revision installed is immediately and
automatically published.  In this case, any year in which a nontrivial
change was made to the package counts as a copyrightable year.

If you're not using a public revision control server, then a
copyrightable year is one in which you @emph{completed} (not
necessarily released) a version.  So if you finished a version on
address@hidden, 1994 and released it on address@hidden, 1995, this
version requires the inclusion of 1994, but doesn't require the
inclusion of 1995.

In either case, when you add a new year, it is not required to keep
track of which files have seen significant changes in the new year and
which have not.  It is recommended and simpler to add the new year to
all files in the package, and be done with it for the rest of the

Don't delete old year numbers; they are significant since they
indicate when older versions might theoretically go into the public
domain, if the movie companies don't continue buying laws to further
extend copyright.  If you copy a file into the package from some other
program, keep the copyright years that come with the file.

You can use a range (@samp{2008-2010}) instead of listing individual
years (@samp{2008, 2009, 2010}) if and only if: 1)@tie{}every year in
the range, inclusive, really is a ``copyrightable'' year that would be
listed individually; @emph{and} 2)@tie{}you make an explicit statement
in a @file{README} file about this usage.

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