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Does AGPLv3 or GPLv3 allow people to contribute code without specifying author of contributed code ? Does it allow people to fork an (A)GPL-project without specifying authors of forked code ?

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migrated from Oct 20 '11 at 14:07

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This is not a licensing issue, this is a copyright issue: is it possible to claim copyright anonymously? I don't think it is, but IANAL and it might depend on local laws. – Fred Foo Oct 20 '11 at 10:01
And how do you think, what impact might be on the project which takes patches form anonymous contributors ? – argos Oct 20 '11 at 10:08
I think you should register their names somehow, but do consult a lawyer on these matters. – Fred Foo Oct 20 '11 at 10:09

Anonymous contributions to a GPL project are possible - essentially they become the copyright of the first identifiable person that enters the patch into the source.

However many large projects are wary of accepting them, in case that in the future they are discovered to come from a large anti-FOSS software company who claims they were stolen/leaked intellectual property. See

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Mind that this can be very different with international laws. in some legislations, like Germany, you can't give up your copyright (other than by death, not even put it in public domain) so all copyright related things and enforcement of the license are quite hard when the author can't be identified. – johannes Oct 28 '11 at 13:55
You can't give up authorship although you can assign copyright - otherwise you couldn't have a software company. In the anon submitter case the 'author' would probably still be the first identifiable person, ie the person who submitted the patch. Another approach is just to create an ANON123 identity and not worry about who that is – Martin Beckett Oct 28 '11 at 15:33
You can give specific usage rights. But I don't want to do a legal discussion here (if you really want i could ...) but just point out that international perspective makes this extremely complicated – johannes Oct 28 '11 at 22:12

That was answered by comments and another answer but I'd like to support it by references.

GPL attributes copyright:

  • "Developers that use the GNU GPL protect your rights with two steps: (1) assert copyright on the software, and... "

And copyright law permits anonymous and pseudonymous works. Though, anonymous or pseudonymous, is not synonymous to unidentifiable:

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