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Re: Sponsorship requirements and copyright files

Hi Manoj,

Manoj Srivastava wrote:
>  o)  It should name the original authors -- which, in my view, is
>      distinct from every subsequent contributor. This can bea matter of
>      subjective interpretation, though.

Allow me to disagree. While in common language "original" can be used in
the sense of "initial" as your interpretation seems to suggest, this is
clearly and consistently not the case in the context of copyright. In
fact, "original author" is a something of a technical term in this
domain. A definition capturing the common meaning of this term can be
found e.g. in the CC licenses. In CC 3.0 it starts with
  "Original Author" means, in the case of a literary or artistic work,
  the individual, individuals, entity or entities who created the Work
The works Debian distributes are more often than not the result of a
collaborative effort. As such, anyone with a (original, i.e. creative)
contribution to the work is an original author, and not just whoever
started a project.

Debian sees increased enforcement of properly documenting copyright
status because the people who recently joined the FTP team were
instructed to check for this and pointed to the publicly available
reject faq and the two announcements on debian-devel-announce that
explicitly state that copyright notices must be listed and have not been
met with opposition when they were posted five and again three years ago.

Properly documenting the copyright license well includes listing the
licensor and the basis of the license, i.e. including the copyright
notice. If Debian absolutely wants to decide it does not care about who
grants the copyright license, then it has to do so. It might not,
however, be quite necessary to pretend that the ftp team who try to
diligently do the job that has been entrusted to them, including
(manually, mostly, not that much less tedious as compiling them)
double-check that the stuff put on Debian mirrors is prima facie legally
distributable is getting fun out of making up reject reasons.

I do not envy anyone to have to wade through things to collect these
notices and looking at hundreds of license boilerplates but having found
stuff like "proprietary property of IBM" in openjdk (probably vetted by
people paid to know what they are doing) or KDE themes with an PNGs from
a KDE icon collection and the express clarification that GPL requires
distributing SVG source with any pixel formats, I can assure you that if
Debian is interested in credibly attempting to ensure that the stuff put
on mirrors is legal to distribute someone has to look at every file in
the tarballs.

Kind regards

Thomas Viehmann, http://thomas.viehmann.net/

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