Create single copyright holder, GPL licensed source code repository
I sometimes want to create a source code repository and build process for a GPL licensed software project, where the sole copyright holder (“owner”) is a single legal entity, like a company or a foundation.
This is how I do it:
- Link to the license from README.md (e.g. the Free Software Foundation’s GPL, version 2)
- At top of each source file: Copyright notice, license statement, warranty disclaimer
- Include a plain-text copy of the full license in the root of your distributable package(s)
- In the README.md, indicate that the project mandates copyright assignment
- Define the legal agreement process between code contributors and the project owner
The GPL was chosen for its strong copyleft nature and combined with the sole copyright holder approach to enable dual licensing business models.
On sites like github, the code contribution itself is usually done by pull request. The legal agreement process between code contributor and project owner should be complete before the pull request is accepted.
I am not yet sure how to best automate updating the year range in the copyright notice, probably at commit time.