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Re: question : authors names in code

On Wed, Jan 16, 2008 at 02:47:15PM +0100, Jens Seidel wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 16, 2008 at 01:16:08PM +0100, Bas Wijnen wrote:
> > Also, in case of GPL'd code, clause 2a (GPL-2) says that if you modify
> > files
> > 	You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
> > 	stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.
> > 
> > And in clause 5a (GPL-3):
> > 	The work must carry prominent notices stating that you modified
> > 	it, and giving a relevant date.
> Oops, I didn't know this. I'm sure there are many patches in our
> repository which don't add such a statement.
> I also considered it bad style to add myself in files if I did only minor
> stuff in it.

Usually, in the case of upstream changes, this is fine.  If the change
is so small that it is not a "copyrightable contribution", it can be
added without an extra copyright claim.  But in that case, upstream is
really the one who makes the actual change, and since they already hold
the copyright, they don't need the extra header.

For distribution through Debian, it seems to be true that you strictly
need to add your name for every minor change, but a judge might say that
this is too small an offense to penalize (by revoking your rights under
the GPL).  And more realistically, this sort of thing is not likely to
get you sued, I think.  (IANAL, TINLA)

> So every GPL 2 licensed file has to contain at least the copyright
> notice of the last editor (the last editor is allowed to remove all
> previous ones). If such a note is missing the file cannot be licensed
> under GPL 2!? Similarly if the work is licensed under "GPL 2 or later"
> and does not contain such a notice it is indeed "GPL 3 or later"
> (except if the changes happened before the code was relicensed to GPL)???

Strictly speaking this may be true, but I don't think this is a problem
in practice.  For GPL-3, it certainly is no problem, for two reasons.
Because debian/changelog is a prominent notice in "the work", and
because there is a clause for solving non-compliancei (section 8), which
includes that you must be notified about the violation, and you have
time to fix it.  In the case of adding a header to a file, this should
be no problem at all, of course.

I didn't really realize this before, but it seems like a problem in
GPL-2.  Just a small and likely only theoretical problem, but a problem
nonetheless.  It's good to know that it's fixed in version 3. :-)

On Wed, Jan 16, 2008 at 03:01:36PM +0100, Stefan Potyra wrote:
> > Oops, I didn't know this. I'm sure there are many patches in our
> > repository which don't add such a statement.
> Nope, there (hopefully) aren't any: When talking about source-packages, the 
> changes are all in one file (diff.gz) which contains that prominent notice 
> (changelog entry).

That's not enough: the diff.gz is a generated file, and this paragraph
is about the source, not about generated files.  That we call it a
"source package" is also unimportant, the GPL defines source as "the
preferred form of making modifications".  The diff.gz certainly doesn't
fit that definition.


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