My manager told me to include 15 line copyright notice on top of every file.

I am not sure whether I need to include in sql, xml, txt, documention, config files or even html templates.

In which files should I include copyright notice?


The type of file doesn't matter. What matters is whether someone may be interested in stealing the source code, reuse it in a different project, and make profits.

Imagine your SQL file has a bunch of flat select queries. Having a 15-lines copyright notice feels ridiculous. If someone copy-pastes those selects and uses them elsewhere, would you be able to prove in court that indeed, those are your selects, a product of days of hard work, and not simply a different bunch of selects that another person wrote in a few minutes?

Imagine another SQL file has dozens of stored procedures which deal with some complicated business rules, and do a great job where your competitors were unable to achieve the same result. Now, it seems much more useful to include a copyright notice.

The same applies for other types, with two exceptions:

1. Coding conventions

If you use a tool such as StyleCop for C# which enforces specific coding conventions on commit, and one of the rules is to have a copyright notice, then you have no choice: adding:

// <copyright file="HelloWorld.cs" company="Example Inc.">
//      Copyright (c) Example Inc. All Rights Reserved.
// </copyright>

even on a file containing an elementary piece of code is much faster than adding style suppressions.

2. Control freak

If your manager/boss/customer is convinced that unless there are copyright notices everywhere, someone will undoubtedly steal his idea—the greatest idea of the century, simply add the damn notices; you'll save hours of quarrels and blame.


As having a copyright notice in a file doesn't have any legal implication at all (your work is still protected without it), it's only as information to anyone who can see it.

Also, to be covered by the rights, the file needs to contain something that could be considered to be an original work. If the code in the file is too trivial, you can't really prove that someone else didn't just write the same thing by chance.

So, there is only a need to include it in files that could possibly be viewed by someone outside the company, and that contains any real substance. Of course, you may also have to consider to include it in more files just to satisfy your manager.

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