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Copyright format 1.0 (developed as DEP-5) now available

Hello everyone,

Version 1.0 of the machine-readable format for debian/copyright files (the
culmination of the DEP-5 process) has now been published.  The canonical
URL (and also the URL to use in the Format field in such files) is:


For those who have adopted various iterations of the DEP-5 format for your
packages, please consider updating to this format the next time you revise
your package.

Use of this format in Debian packages is optional.

Thanks to all of the people who have contributed to this work over its
long evolution.  Particular thanks go to Steve Langasek, Charles Plessy,
and Lars Wirzenius, who kept this document moving through its extended DEP
discussion process, and Sam Hocevar, who started this work in 2007.

The copyright format specification is now being maintained as part of the
debian-policy package and will follow the same update process that's used
for other parts of Policy.  See:


for that process.

For this specification, we're trying something new for Debian technical
policies.  This document is versioned, and older versions of the
specification will be maintained to not invalidate older references in
copyright files that have not been moved to newer versions.  This is
similar to the way that specifications are handled by some other projects,
particularly the freedesktop.org standards.

The plan, going forward, is that informative changes (changes that do not
change the requirements or the contents of compliant copyright files) will
be made following the same relaxed procedure as other informative changes
to Policy, and new versions will only informative changes will be
published with the same version number.  So the existing 1.0 document may
receive further improvements in wording, examples, or similar changes that
don't modify its meaning.

Normative changes (changes that change requirements for compliant files,
which includes addition of new standardized license short names) will
follow the normative Policy change process, including formal seconds.

Once normative changes are accepted, the next release of this
specification will receive a new version number (1.1, for example).  The
previous version, prior to the normative changes, will be frozen, and from
that point forward will not be changed except as required to continue to
publish it.  This includes further informative changes.  We will continue
publishing these frozen older versions of the standard on www.debian.org
and in the debian-policy package for some time: possibly forever, and at
least as long as they're still referred to by packages distributed by the

The hope is that this will provide a good balance between specification
stability, editing for clarity, and specification changes to meet changing
requirements, while not invalidating the URLs in older files and while
continuing to provide the information required to interpret older files.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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