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Re: MaintainerDatabase Copyright

Now that it's a bit clearer what's going on, I'd like to venture my
opinion on the license.

Before I go on, I should state my basic assumption: that Manoj is
asserting some sort of compilation copyright and a license for the
compilation, which is not related to the licenses for the data
collected.  If this is not the case, then please explain who is
copyrighting and licensing what.

Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> It was pointed out to us that the GPL may not be quite appropriate
> for a dataset like this one, because the GPL explicitly allows for
> modifications of the data. In this case, that part of the GPL made
> people uneasy, and I caould see no reason to have the data set
> being mutable.

This seems to be the key point.

I do not think that it is a good idea to forbid modifications to
the database.  There is no danger in allowing them: such modified
versions will be clearly marked (per the GPL), and in any case
recipients are not likely to put much faith in a list that they
did not receive directly from a Debian person or site.

On the other hand, consider the effects of forbidding them: 

- The database project becomes non-free, in the sense that Manoj is
the only one with the right to update the database, unless he
explicitly transfers that right.  There will be no way to do the
equivalent of a "non-maintainer release".

- The license would block (or at least hinder) legitimate uses of the
database.  Joost already gave some examples of these.  I doubt that
they all fit under a "personal use" clause.  Some may involve mailing
extracts of the list around to other developers.  It seems unwise to
restrict all future use of the database to that what can be imagined

- Everyone who looks at the database will from then on have to worry
about the terms of the license.  What uses are "reasonable"?  When is
something a "modification"?  If I add two digits of precision to my
latitude and longtitude, am I breaking the law?

I think this is a case where forbidding something is more trouble
than it's worth.  Remember that you are invoking legal force here.
That is overkill.

> 	Is the Debian keyring under the GPL? 

I doubt it is even copyrightable.  It's just a collection of public
information, and the scope of that collection is determined by an
external factor.  (Namely, the set of Debian developers).

Richard Braakman

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