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Re: Sponsorship requirements and copyright files

On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 02:57:34PM +0100, Thomas Viehmann wrote:
> 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 fact that the CC licenses define the term is a pretty clear[1] indicator
that the term does *not* have a universally recognized definition under
copyright law.

> 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.

When the Reject FAQ was posted, its author was the ftp assistant tasked with
NEW processing, not an ftpmaster.  There was a clear line of appeal to the
ftpmasters in case of disputes, and I assumed at the time that the Reject
FAQ was documentation of existing practice, not unilateral codification of
new requirements.  I certainly didn't analyze it at the time it was posted
to look for unintended side effects in the event someone started using it as
Scripture to justify blocking DDs' packages from the archive.

Over the past 13 months, there has been 100% turnover of the ftp team with
the exception of that single ftp assistant who is now the senior ftpmaster.
All of a sudden, a FAQ that some of us considered advisory has become a
strictly enforced law, with no route of appeal short of GR or TC.  The
publication of that FAQ was *not* precedent for the kinds of rejects that
are going on now; this is something entirely new, untempered by the
institutional continuity that existed before.

> Properly documenting the copyright license well includes listing the
> licensor and the basis of the license, i.e. including the copyright
> notice.

I agree that this is the proper thing to do.  It is not, however,
appropriate to enforce creating a debian/copyright that documents every
single copyright holder as a condition of NEW processing, if this is not
already a requirement of the license.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

[1] though not definitive; lawyers, unlike compilers, like shadowing

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