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Re: License of a patch

On 30.08.2010 21:06, D M German wrote:

After my presentation at DebConf this year I was pointed to your efforts
on the Patch Tagging Guidelines.

One thing I believe would be useful is if the patch included a
license. The simplest license would be "Same as patched code" but it
will clarify it.

Similarly, but perhaps more complex, it could point towards a Copyright
Assignment of the patch to the upstream.

I would not recommend such usage. IMHO the copyright assignments are
upstream business, as the procedures to include code in upstream.
So I would not use such information on debian patches: it complicate
assignment tracking and updating patches (maybe from other people).
[i.e. I prefer to use two separate channels]

And explain why do you think this is necessary. Any modification to
existing files is implicitly under the same license.

Hmm. Legal system don't like the "implicitly", but also the licenses
usually don't prescribe a licenses for the modifications.
[If it the result is distributable is an other question]

But patches are different: patches was a usual method to "circumvent"
the GPL: GPL allowed private modifications, so if a patch was distributed separately from the original code, it was assumed that "derivate works" was done by user, not by the patches, thus without legal troubles for patcher and user.

But I think this was done case by case (e.g. with open source but
incompatible license would be easier). Often patches are clearly derived works.

Any new file can
embed the license information with the usual copyright notice.

Yes. Personally I would like to have 4 cases:
- "same as upstream"
- "public domain" for trivial patches, to simplify license
  upgrading on upstream
- explicit add additional license and copyright notice in the
  patched files.
  This mainly for new included code from other programs, but
  also to enforce the actual license (upstream could not
  change license without your agreement, thus a protection
  of "proprietaryfication" )
- inclusive "license". (but I would prefer method 1).
  i.e. GPL2+ on a GPL2 code, or something like that
  to simplify license upgrades.


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