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From: Josh Juran (jjuran_at_[hidden])
Date: 2019-09-27 02:41:38

On Sep 26, 2019, at 8:06 PM, Hans Dembinski via Boost <boost_at_[hidden]> wrote:

> Hi all,
> I got a PR from a contributor who prefers to remain anonymous. The person
> created new files and instead of putting a real name, the person added just
> initials. I am talking to the person to see whether they can be convinced
> to give a real name.
> Any advice on how to handle this? My feeling is that a copyright notice
> without a real name is illegal.

Maybe not. Surely, a copyrightable work with no copyright notice at all isn't illegal (and some messages to this list would qualify). As I see it, a copyright notice provides partial legal standing to sue for infringement, and also doubles as attribution. Your contributor clearly doesn't seek the latter, and couldn't pursue the former while remaining anonymous -- and the Boost license leaves little room for infringement anyway.

An attribution notice also informs users who they might come to with complaints (which might be why I once saw a manual for an OEM device marked, verbatim, "Copyright 1996 This Company"). This isn't a problem here, since the maintainers aren't anonymous.

The biggest issue I see is corporate Boost users concerned about the "provenance of the code" (as one Microsoft engineer put it). As a named individual, your reputation is at stake should you misrepresent your claim in what you contribute, so you're under pressure not to. But what stops an unnamed actor, and how do you verify? An anonymous gift, to the paranoid, could have come from anywhere, including a copyleft-licensed project known for pursuing violations.

Personally, I wouldn't have a problem adding the code with a non-copyright attribution notice affirming the license to one of my own projects, but then again, I don't have Microsoft as a user.


P.S. I'm not a meta-lawyer, and I can't advise you on whether or not this constitutes legal advice.

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