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Re: Sponsorship requirements and copyright files

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 09:19:36PM +0100, Bill Allombert wrote:
> > But we do distribute binaries in the debs - and debian/copyright is
> > not only for the source but also ends up in the deb.

> Actually, Policy does not make mandatory for the .deb file to contain
> a copyright file at all:

>      `/usr/share/doc/<package>' may be a symbolic link to another directory
>      in `/usr/share/doc' only if the two packages both come from the same
>      source and the first package Depends on the second.[2]

> (I am not a fan of this particular paragraph of Policy, but that is
> irrelevant, and there is a number of packages taking advantage of that)

> Policy also allows package to refer to /usr/share/common-licenses (part of
> base-files) for actual license texts (for a limited set of license).

> So we already allow packages to reference other packages for license
> informations. Binary package referencing its source package for detailed
> license information is not quite a stretch.

There are some material differences that we should be sure of before
blessing such a change in policy.  So far, the exceptions preserve the
invariant that if the package is installed, the license is present in
/usr/share/doc/<package>/copyright or in a file referenced by that file.  If
we allow the license for our binary packages to be shipped in the source
only, then:

- Users who receive Debian preinstalled from the manufacturer will not have
  a copy of the license.
- Users who receive Debian as binary-only media with an offer to provide
  source upon request will not have a copy of the license.
- There will be a greater number of "exceptions to the rule" regarding what
  must be included in debian/copyright (since there are some licenses that
  do require specific information shipped with the binaries, and some that
  don't), bringing an increased risk of bugs.

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

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