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Re: Debian packaging license (was: Re: RFC: DEP-3: Patch Tagging Guidelines).

On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 1:13 AM, Charles Plessy<plessy@debian.org> wrote:
> Le Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 11:33:58AM +0800, Paul Wise a écrit :
>> On Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 7:20 AM, Charles Plessy<plessy@debian.org> wrote:
>> > The dh_make template for debian/copyright induces many developers to put their
>> > packaging work under the GPL, and I have already seen packages whose license is
>> > otherwise BSD-ish with such patches. If the maintainer suddenly goes MIA and
>> > the patch is non-trivial, then in theory if we want to respect what is written,
>> > we are stuck with a GPL'ed patch. Therefore, we have an optional License field
>> > to make things crystal clear if necessary.
>> Sounds like dh_make needs a bug report about the default packagaging
>> license, could you file one?
> Dear all,
> we just had a case in the Debian Med packaging team where the upstream author
> of software licensed under terms similar to the BSD license got upset to see
> the Debian packaging licenced under the GPL, and posted a reminder that GPLed
> contributions to his software will not be accepted.
Yes, this is precisely why the pkg-perl team usually goes with "same
terms as Perl itself" (Artistic | GPL) and whatever the upstream
licensing terms are (usually Artistic | GPL but sometimes BSD).

So for example if upstream is BSD-licensed, then I'd personally put
something like:
Artistic | GPL | BSD
for the debian/* files

My reasoning is that the upstream can get stuff like patches back into
their software (the BSD) provision but also allows anyone that can use
Perl to use the patch (Artistic | GPL). Further, if upstream decides
later to change to the "same as Perl" license (it is probably the most
popular license on CPAN), it is okay for them to do so (with our

In the case of Debian-Med (being an outsider and not knowing what the
team works with), I'd say explicitly licensing your debian/* files
under the same license as upstream would be appropriate, or perhaps a
combination of upstream | GPL licensing. This is clearly a discussion
we all need to have within teams/package groups/etc -- namely, what do
we want our debian/* files to be licensed under.
> This reminded me of this thread and I filled the bug #540740.
> (Note that it is not only about patches, but all the other possible
> contributions: documentation, artwork,…)
> Have a nice day,
> --
> Charles Plessy
> Debian Med packaging team,
> http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-med
> Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan
> --
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