I am just wondering. I've never licensed any code before and there is so many separate information about that I am a little bit confused; I watched the codes which are published in the Internet and some of them contain their author name and license info so that makes the code some kind of personalized; So my question is... what author should do to be able to :

A) License his code

B) Say he is the code author

C) Place the code in Internet (apache web site or something in this direction)

D) Say it is under apache/GNU license or something?

I am talking about open-source and non-commercial licenses; And the most important thing is... should I patent the code before to prove I am the code owner to license it?

And what organization(s) I should join? In music it is something like ASCAP ( but in my case I don't mean commercial purposes); but what about programming? Are there some societies which I can join to be sure I can prove the code I published (on their official site etc) is really mine?



2 Answers 2


Look at existing free software. They generally have a comment with a license and a copyright owner. Often, there is a list of contributors.

For example, for GCC, the file gcc/gengtype-state.c starts with

 /* Gengtype persistent state serialization & de-serialization.
    Useful for gengtype in plugin mode.

    Copyright (C) 2010  Free Software Foundation, Inc.

    This file is part of GCC.

    GCC is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under
    the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free
    Software Foundation; either version 3, or (at your option) any later

    GCC is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY
    WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or
    FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the GNU General Public License
    for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with GCC; see the file COPYING3.  If not see

    Contributed by Jeremie Salvucci <[email protected]>
    and Basile Starynkevitch <[email protected]>

See also this answer (to a question related to yours). The GPLv3 seems to require such comments. An example of GPLv3 code with the copyright owner same as the author is onion/onion.c from the onion HTTP server library.

Caveat: I am not a lawyer

Regarding organizations to join, you might be interested by the FSF or some free software "user" organization (like April or Aful in France; perhaps you could find the equivalent in your country).

My preference is for GPLv3 or LGPLv3 licenses.

  • But what about the apache license? I heard it demands to use code with including license files which contains the code author name(s). Is that true?
    – user592704
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 19:36
  • The notion and rights of authors vary from country to country (for instance the "author's moral rights" = "droit moral de l'auteur" exists in French law, but not in US law). Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 20:39
  • So you mean I have to copyright code before licensing it? Is there a way not to copyright it?
    – user592704
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 23:35

You can't patent code, you can only copyright it. You can patent algorithms and processes though, so perhaps that applies. In any case you'd need to talk to a patent attorney to figure out what you could do and how to proceed. It ain't a DIY process.

I'm having trouble figuring out what you are asking, but the easiest way to publish open source libraries would be to use one of the major public code hosting sites such as google code, github, bitbucket or codeplex. They make it pretty easy to setup the licenses and handle the mechanics of open source. The Apache Foundation probably won't be much help to most projects.

  • Emm... You mean to patent algorithms it should be a primitives based code only? Just like some math formulas or something?
    – user592704
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 19:38

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