26 August, we discussed on debian-devel (see for references into
the debian-devel archive footnote  below), the Maintainers
database. Part of this discussion was about the copyright of the
Just as with ordinary software, people are tempted to make their
own licence for the (in their eyes) "new" catogory of a
maintainer database. Initially, distribution was limited.
Then some discussion on debian-devel followed , and it was
decided to make it GPL. Then two people got together, and decided
to change it again, to the "current" licence[For text, see footnote 3]:
- You're not allowed to make money selling the list
- You're not allowed to change the list (though you can
- You're not allowed to make patches for the data.
This change already has taken effect, and all new data collected
for the database is with this licence. Without discussion on any list.
Why I think the current licence is bad:
- Suppose I want to organise a meeting of Dutch debian developpers.
I'd like to take the database, remove all entries that
have locations outside the Netherlands, and send email
to the people I'm left with. I'm not allowed to create
that file with just the Dutch developpers, according to the
- Suppose I go on holiday. Suppose I plan to visit both
touristic places, and developpers living close to those places.
Then I'd want to take the developpers database, add a few touristic
hotspots, view the result in xearth, and plan my route.
Dammit, I'm in violation of the licence. I cannot even
do that on my own computer.
- In order to become a debian-developper, new developpers
need the database to find an existing developper close to them.
As the database is non-free (no way it is DFSG compliant),
he needs another package from non-free to become a developper.
He already needed PGP, and FSF is trying to write a replacement GPL
PGP version, because it's not good that free software developpers
depend on non-free programmes. Now we are saying we've created
an essential database ourselves, and we make it non-free,
of our own free will.
Some often-heard disadvantages of a GPL, and why they don't apply:
- "But I don't want my email adress sold to spammers!".
Don't become a debian developper then. Your email is already
in the Packages file, and that is GPL. Your email is already
in your package./debian/control, and the debian files you
added are GPL.
- "We want don't want malicious people to corrupt the database".
If we are really concerned about the integrity of the database file,
please have the maintainer PGP sign the database file.
Also, malicious people who modify the (GPL) Packages file and
pretend it to be the real one, to decieve other people, are
lying, and I do hope that deception is punishable anyway.
So, we don't need the extra protection of the licence.
Please, people, your reactions to this are welcome.
History of the copyright of the maintainers database:
The first incarnation (xearth database) was "can only be distributed
in a debian xearth package" (which is now just as good as "cannot be
distributed at all, as that's not DFSG compliant). Note that the
old xearth database predates the DFSG.
Then, other people started to work on this, and when this happened,
I started some discussion on debian-devel:
My post, where I prefer GPL:
Andreas mentions he doesn't like to give his email adress out:
Jim Pick mentions Andreas's email is already in the Packages file:
Manoj: "The data shall be made available under the GPL":
In the end, it was decided that just plain GPL was the best.
Thus, the data-collector sent out a questionair that just
mentions GPL, nothing else. (Un)Fortunately, I am to lasy to
answer to that first questionair, and I'm now also the prowed
owner of the second questionair. Lo and behold, the copyright
changed. No discussion on debian-devel, but now suddenly we're
not allowed to make profit with the database, we cannot modify
it, and so on. Do I need to say I get angry? I think not.
That's why I sent this email.
Footnote 2: I am really pissed.
I'm not naming any names, to make my pissed-ness less clear.
(Does anybody have a sortof spelling checker that checks for
"potentially offensive" words, like "utter", "crap", "silly", etc,
so that I can go through my posting again and delete those? Would
be useful for me, in my current state of mind).
The current licence (Manoj asked me to include it in this message):
The intent of this document is to state the conditions under which the
data contained in herein may be copied, such that the Copyright Holder
maintains some semblance of control over the Data, while giving the
users of the package the right to use and distribute the Package in a
more-or-less customary fashion.
However, given the nature of the Data, you are not allowed to
modify the contents therein. Specifically, you are not allowed to
remove the association between a developer and the the corresponding
name, electronic mail address, or geographic location, or to change
any of the values of those fields; you are not allowed to add, or
remove, developers to the list mentioned in the Data. You may,
however, reformat it for use with other display programs or for
TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION
The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of the Data, but changing it is not allowed.
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person
obtaining a copy of the data file accompanying this package, which
contains the names and locations of Debian developers in a format
readable by the popular program "xearth" (the "Data"), to deal in
the Data without restriction, including without limitation the
rights to use, copy, distribute, and/or sublicense copies of the
Data, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do
so, subject to the following conditions:
0. This License applies to the Data contained in this package. The
"Data" refers to the accompanying file which contains the names
and locations of Debian developers in a format readable by the
popular program "xearth". Specifically, the Data establishes a
number of Individuals to be Debian developers, and includes, but
is not restricted to, their name, and geographical location in
terms of Latitude and Longitude, and possibly an elctronic mail
address. Each licensee is addressed as "you".
Activities other than copying, distribution and reformatting are not
covered by this License; they are outside its scope.
1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Data as you
receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and
appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright
notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices
that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty;
and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this
License along with the Data.
2. You may charge a reasonable fee for the physical act of
transferring a copy, or for any distribution of this Data. You
may not charge a fee for this Data itself. However, you may
distribute this Data in aggregate with other (possibly
commercial) programs as part of a larger (possibly commercial)
software distribution provided that you do not advertise this
Data as a product of your own.
3. No commercial use of the Data is permitted, including, but not
limited to, using the data as a basis for unsolicited electronic
mail, or solicitation of any kind. The names of the persons
mentioned in the Data cannot be used in any endorsement or
advertisement without the express permission of the person in
4. You may not copy, format, sublicense, or distribute the Data
except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt
otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Data is
void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this
License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights,
from you under this License will not have their licenses
terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.
5. You may reformat the Data in any way you wish, but you are not
allowed to modify the Data itself. Any permitted reformatting of
the data is to be superficial, and is not allowed to add to or
subtract from the list of developers, and is not allowed to break
the association of a devloper from the associated attributes (for
example, the geographical co-ordinates)
6. You are not allowed to create patches for the Data, or to
distribute the Data with patches or scripts that would modify the
7. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not
signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to
distribute the Data or its derivative works. These actions are
prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore,
by formatting distributing the Data (or any work based on the
Data), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and
all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or
formatting the Data or works based on it.
8. Each time you redistribute the Data (or any work based on the
Data), the recipient automatically receives a license from the
original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Data subject to
these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further
restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.
You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to
9. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot
distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
may not distribute the Data at all. For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Data by
all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then
the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
refrain entirely from distribution of the Data.
If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under
any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to
apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other
10. The name of the Copyright Holder may not be used to endorse or promote
products derived from this Data without specific prior written permission.
BECAUSE THE DATA IS LICENSED FREE OF CHARGE, THERE IS NO WARRANTY
FOR THE DATA, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN
OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES
PROVIDE THE DATA "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED
OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS
TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE DATA IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE
DATA PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING,
REPAIR OR CORRECTION.
THERE IS NO CLAIM FOR THE DATA BEING COMPLETE, EXHAUSTIVE, CORRECT, OR
IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE
FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL
DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS
OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION)
HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT
LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY
OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF
joost witteveen, email@example.com
#what's this? see http://www.dcs.ex.ac.uk/~aba/rsa/
TO UNSUBSCRIBE FROM THIS MAILING LIST: e-mail the word "unsubscribe" to
Trouble? e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .