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3.3.1 @copying: Declare Copying Permissions

The @copying command should be given very early in the document; the recommended location is right after the header material (see Texinfo File Header). It conventionally consists of a sentence or two about what the program is, identification of the documentation itself, the legal copyright line, and the copying permissions. Here is a skeletal example:

@copying
This manual is for program (version version, updated
date), which …

Copyright @copyright{} years copyright-owner.

@quotation
Permission is granted to …
@end quotation
@end copying

The @quotation has no legal significance; it’s there to improve readability in some contexts.

The text of @copying is output as a comment at the beginning of Info, HTML, and XML output files. It is not output implicitly in plain text or TeX; it’s up to you to use @insertcopying to emit the copying information. See the next section for details.

The @copyright{} command generates a ‘c’ inside a circle when the output format supports this glyph (print and HTML always do, for instance). When the glyph is not supported in the output, it generates the three-character sequence ‘(C)’.

The copyright notice itself has the following legally-prescribed form:

Copyright © years copyright-owner.

The word ‘Copyright’ must always be written in English, even if the document is otherwise written in another language. This is due to international law.

The list of years should include all years in which a version was completed (even if it was released in a subsequent year). It is simplest for each year to be written out individually and in full, separated by commas.

The copyright owner (or owners) is whoever holds legal copyright on the work. In the case of works assigned to the FSF, the owner is ‘Free Software Foundation, Inc.’.

The copyright ‘line’ may actually be split across multiple lines, both in the source document and in the output. This often happens for documents with a long history, having many different years of publication. If you do use several lines, do not indent any of them (or anything else in the @copying block) in the source file.

See Copyright Notices in GNU Maintainer Information, for additional information. See GNU Sample Texts, for the full text to be used in GNU manuals. See GNU Free Documentation License, for the license itself under which GNU and other free manuals are distributed.


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