Every January 1st, an army of open source developers rushes out to update their copyright attributions in licenses and documentation. Why? Because we’ve always done it that way.

I’ve stopped participating after I learned that copyright statements need only the year of the first publication and no lawyer that I asked contradicted1.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice from me. All I’m saying is that if it’s good enough for Google’s, Microsoft’s, and Netflix’s lawyers, it’s good enough for me:

In fact, you can drop years altogether:

Enjoy your New Year doing something more fun!

Update from January 2023: For some reason, this topic blew up this year! I count it among my biggest achievements that Daniel Stenberg decided to drop years in curl with reference to this article! 🤩

Daniel also isn’t as shy around this topic as I am, and wrote a more comprehensive summary: Copyright Without Years. This can be useful if the inevitable Very Smart Contrarian hits your mentions.

  1. I have a range of years on my homepage for non-content, because the first release dates of the various individual content pieces (i.e. articles, talks, and TILs) actually span those years. This is different from multiple versions of the same thing. Not sure if even that is actually necessary, but my blog engine does it for me. ↩︎