Re: debian/* license of non-free packages
Nick Andrik <email@example.com> writes:
> My problem was when I had to specify a license for the debian/* files.
> I contacted the people that own the copyright of those files proposing a
> default license of GPL2+ (no strong feelings about that, just a
> I was told that debian/copyright contains the text of the original
> non-free license, so debian/* cannot be distributed under GPL.
I don't believe this is correct. Most license texts have no license at
all, and hence by default under copyright law as creative works cannot be
modified or redistributed, so a literal application of this would affect
many other packages that similarly declare the packaging files to be
covered by the GPL. We've generally treated license texts themselves as
an exception to the general DFSG guidelines since they have a special
position legally, and it's not at all clear that you can prohibit,
legally, the redistribution of the terms of a license. (Particularly if
that license itself says to distribute a copy of the license.)
If you really want to represent this behavior, you could add a stanza that
says that debian/copyright specifically is covered by the non-free
license, but we haven't bothered with this with other packages.
For example, the GPL license text itself does not, so far as I can tell,
appear to be covered under any license, so it's not at all clear that you
can distribute the GPL itself under the terms of the GPL. But we've never
really worried about this; base-files (which includes copies of it) has a
debian/copyright that declares the whole package to be covered by the GPL,
with a note that the GPLs are copyrighted by the FSF.
If someone felt like getting the authors of various licenses to put some
sort of license on their licenses, I suppose it might be an interesting
exercise in t-crossing, but I don't think you as an individual packager
should need to worry excessively about this. This feels like one of those
places where the law isn't a computer program and doesn't work according
to strict, programmatic rules.
Russ Allbery (firstname.lastname@example.org) <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>