Bug#649530: [copyright-format] clearer definitions and more consistent License: stanza specification
Charles Plessy wrote:
> I would like to re-frame the discussion and remind that
> In the case of the (L)GPL, it is common practice to use the license notices as
> found in headers of files as if they were the actual license text.
For what it's worth, I disagree, while I agree with Ximin Luo that
current format is somewhat inefficient in the cases mentioned.
Perhaps a source of confusion is something Joerg wrote five years
| There are license headers, like the one used for GPL in the example below, you
| should use those.
I continue to believe that what he meant is that such pre-made license
headers are good at covering their bases and that it is advisable to
take advantage of the work that was already done in writing them. For
example, the typical license headers explicitly mention that _you_ may
redistribute and modify the software, and they tend to include a
disclaimer of warranty. By contrast, a statement like
| | On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License
| | can be found in the `/usr/share/common-licenses/GPL' file.
does not actually say that that license applies to the software at
However, if I'm the only one that read the email that way, then I
would be happy to see this clarified in policy. (Well, I would be
unhappy actually, since it would mean a lot of work for me preserving
all the variations on license notices in packages I work with.)
The rest of the use cases described should be easier to address:
- In the current copyright-format, if you say "License: GPL-2+" or
"License: GFDL-1.1+", you have to say what that means. That is
probably worth changing in the future, for example by only
requiring the presence of at least one standalone paragraph
satisfying the license version constraint (e.g., "License: GPL-2"
or "License: GFDL-1.2"). I think it would be fine to delay that to
- The current copyright-format is unclear about how to document what
a license exception means in a standalone paragraph. I think that
should be fixed before release, for example by requiring a
standalone paragraph describing the license together with the
exception (e.g., "License: GPL-2+ with Font exception").
In a later release, a new "License-Exception" paragraph type
could be introduced.
- Current practice is not to treat the list of copyright holders as
part of the license. I see no reason to explicitly document that
or change it.
- Copyright holders can be listed in the "Copyright" field. Other
authors can be listed in a "Comment" field when desirable. They
can be collated and do not need to be separated by file when a
"Files" stanza describes multiple files (unless some license
requirement says so, of course). I see no reason to change this.