Copyright notice referring a company other than Sun

Mark Reinhold mr at
Thu Jun 18 12:21:34 PDT 2009

> Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2009 20:01:28 +0400
> From: anthony.petrov at

> There's a test (notably,
> jdk/test/java/awt/Frame/FrameSize/ that currently has
> the following copyright statement:
>> Copyright 2009 Red Hat, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
> The test needs to be slightly modified by Sun's engineers. Should the
> copyright notice be modified as well? Like adding "Portions copyrighted
> by Sun ... "? Or is it OK to leave it as is?
> If it should be modified, could someone please provide the exact phrase
> that needs to be inserted in the legal statement in the beginning of the
> source file? Thanks!

The general rule is: Never remove existing copyright statements, unless
advised to do so by an attorney.

In a case such as this, where the original file has a statement asserting
copyright ownership by an entity other than you or your employer, it may
be appropriate for you to add a "Portions copyright" line naming you (if
you're acting on your own) or your employer (if not).

You're a Sun employee, so the line to add would be:

  Portions Copyright 2009 Sun Microsystems, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Now, I said "may be appropriate" because the addition of a copyright line
is justified only when the new version of a file is a "derivative work".
Identifying derivative works is a matter of judgement. The following
guidance from the U.S. Copyright office may be helpful:

  To be copyrightable, a derivative work must be different enough from
  the original to be regarded as a new work or must contain a substantial
  amount of new material.  Making minor changes or additions of little
  substance to a preexisting work will not qualify the work as a new
  version for copyright purposes.  The new material must be original and
  copyrightable in itself.  Titles, short phrases, and format, for
  example, are not copyrightable.

If your modifications to this test are truly "slight", as you say, then
it would not be appropriate to add a Sun portions-copyright line.

(As always, IANAL, but this is my best understanding from having spent
 lots of quality time with people who are ALs.)

- Mark

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