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I cannot find any guidance on this. Do I need to change the copyright notice for an application that is automatically translated from a programming language into another one (and recompiled and renamed)? In my particular case, the original application is written in Java and translated into C# using a modified version of a commercial tool, if that makes a difference.

The original source coude is distributed under the MIT license, which is very permissive, except that it requires you to copy the original copyright notice in a derivatve work. Now, the original copyright notice looks like this:

Copyright (c) 2014 Original Author <original@email.address>

Should I leave this unchanged in my translated work or what should I do?

I don't need and don't want to claim authorship for a work I've just automatically translated using a tool, but I'm concerned that attributing my derivative work to the original author could be technically (or even legally) incorrect. The original author doesn't kwon about my work and would be likely surprised to start receiving emails concerning this software with a different name, written in a different language.

  • At least as a courtesy you should contact the original author once. – Basile Starynkevitch Feb 20 '15 at 8:16
  • @Basile That sounds reasonable, I'll contact them. – The Pyrate Feb 20 '15 at 8:24
  • And in the documentation of your software it would be nice to name the original library and author. BTW what is the library, the programming languages involved, and how do you make the translation? Please edit your question to improve it! – Basile Starynkevitch Feb 20 '15 at 8:25
  • @Basile It's there already... – The Pyrate Feb 20 '15 at 8:26
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If all you did was run the translation tool over the sources, you have no claim to copyright on the translated version because no creative work on your part went into it.

As the original author will probably not be supporting the C# version, it is a good idea to mention that you are responsible for the C# version. You could do this like so:

Copyright (c) 2014 Original Author <original@email.address>
Translated from Java to C# by The Pyrate <thepyrate@example.com> (using foobartool)
Original Java Version available at http://example.com/originaljavalib

If, after translation, you made changes to the C# code (for example, to fix bugs caused by the translation), then you can claim copyright for those changes.

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I propose a header like this, which keeps the original copyright notice intact (IMO a must) while making clear that contacting the original author doesn't make much sense:

Original Java Version, see http://github.com/originaljavalib:
Copyright (c) 2014 Original Author <original@email.address>

C# Version, translated using foobartool:
Copyright (c) 2015 The Pyrate <thepyrate@thepyrate.com>
  • It is polite, but I am not sure it is legally right! – Basile Starynkevitch Feb 20 '15 at 9:32
  • 1
    If you want to be sure, you have to ask a lawyer! – user281377 Feb 20 '15 at 9:52

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