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In this answer, there is a copyright notice at the top of the code snippet. Should copyright notices be removed from code snippets?

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Either the code is copyrighted or it isn't. Removing the notice changes nothing. –  Sparky Jun 29 '11 at 23:47
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@Sparky672: Well, by posting here, the poster implicitly releases the code under CC-Wiki, which means the notice no longer really means anything. (Which is why I would argue it should be removed from the post -- it's taking up space and doesn't mean anything) –  Billy ONeal Jun 30 '11 at 0:18
    
@Billy ONeal: I cannot dispute that. My point is simply that a notice or notification cannot alter the reality of the copyright itself. –  Sparky Jun 30 '11 at 1:41
    
@Sparky: Did I say anything implying otherwise? –  Billy ONeal Jun 30 '11 at 1:44
    
@Billy ONeal: You did not, and I thought I agreed with you. –  Sparky Jun 30 '11 at 1:48
    
@Sparky: Ah, I thought I had done something wrong. –  Billy ONeal Jun 30 '11 at 1:48
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@Billy ONeal: I mostly had the readers in mind where many people erroneously think the notice is creating or altering the copyright itself. –  Sparky Jun 30 '11 at 1:54

2 Answers 2

Your reaction was the appropriate one: enquire whether the copyright notice should apply (in which case the post needs to be flagged so that a moderator will delete it), or whether the code is released under the CC license (in which case the copyright notice is wrong and should be edited out).

In this case, since it has been established that the post was not made in error and the CC license stands, the license notice should be edited out. (Not the copyright declaration, which is effectively an attribution.)

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What's the difference between a license notice and a copyright declaration? (Using the linked post as an example) –  Billy ONeal Jun 30 '11 at 0:30
    
Grossly simplified: a copyright declaration says “I'm the author”, and reads “Copyright 2011 John Doe”. A license notice says “you may do this but not that”; it can be short or long and doesn't have to exist (e.g. books don't normally come under a license). Relevant SE sites (proposed): Software Law, IP Law. –  Gilles Jun 30 '11 at 7:12
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What would "All rights reserved." be then? –  Billy ONeal Jun 30 '11 at 17:22
    
@Billy As far as I know, in countries that have ratified the Berne convention (i.e. all the ones that matter), it is mostly useless (it was useful in the US and other countries pre-Berne). It's part of the license; saying the recipient has no rights (except for fair use and any right that is positively enumerated afterwards). It may be useful to dispel the assumption that there may be an implicit license (e.g. putting stuff on a public web page implicitly grants the viewer the right to read it, and perhaps even download it). –  Gilles Jun 30 '11 at 17:33

Section 2 of CC Wiki states:

Nothing in this License is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any uses free from copyright or rights arising from limitations or exceptions that are provided for in connection with the copyright protection under copyright law or other applicable laws.

This can be interpeted as saying the user who posted the code may exercise copyright over it.

However Section 3 then states:

Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright) license to exercise the rights in the Work as stated below...

So a distinction needs to be made between a copyright notice and the licence granted by posting on this site. This particular user has a habit of including this text in his answers (here and here). If he is going to continue including copyright text in his code samples (IMHO he has every right to do this) then he should also be asked to add a line or two to make the licence clear and obvious, so potential users of the code are fully aware of the distinction.

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I don't think your interpretation of the first section is correct. The first line contains "Free from copyright or rights" -- that is, that paragraph says that if copyright is not held by the licensor, then the license does not affect the copyright of the original holder. –  Billy ONeal Jun 30 '11 at 17:20
    
It also means that the original copyright holder is free to make less restrictive arrangements as they see fit. The licensor in this case is the poster of the code. (s)he releases the code under that license if they post it on SO. Therefore, they are free to make less restrictive arrangements with others, but they can't go and sue someone for use of the code they posted here. –  Billy ONeal Jun 30 '11 at 17:20
    
@Billy ithink you have focussed on the wrong words when reading it. is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any uses free from copyright means the licence will not intefere with any rights or freedoms already granted by copyright or not even related to copyright. or rights arising from limitations or exceptions that are provided for in connection with the copyright protection then means copyright applies in full regardless of this licence. In any case, the distinction between copyright and licence needs to be made clear. –  slugster Jun 30 '11 at 19:54

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