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Re: length of Debian copyright files

On Wed, 25 Mar 2020 at 09:04:52 -0700, Sean Whitton wrote:
> On Wed 25 Mar 2020 at 08:58PM +05, Andrey Rahmatullin wrote:
> > On Wed, Mar 25, 2020 at 03:43:17PM +0000, Simon McVittie wrote:
> >> maintainers are incentivized
> >> to dot every i and cross every t in the copyright file even if it isn't
> >> strictly necessary
> >>
> > Do you mean it's not essential to track and list all licenses and
> > copyrights?

Policy just says "a verbatim copy of its copyright information and
distribution license", which is not really enough to answer your question
either way. The ftp team are responsible for interpreting this part
of Policy in order to accept or reject packages, and have made various
announcements about what is or isn't acceptable.

One thing that the ftp team clarified somewhat recently is that in
most cases, we must track all the copyright notices that exist in the
upstream source, and copy them into d/copyright.

#904729 is a related Policy bug that would benefit from ftp team input.

> > IIRC only one simplification is permitted and I don't even
> > remember which one is it (maybe combining copyright years and names into
> > one entry? or just years?).
> With the machine-readable format, you can combine copyright years and
> names for files under the same license, yes.

Strictly speaking, I am not aware of the ftp team having said this is
acceptable - although I've had packages ACCEPTed where I did this, so
presumably it must be (and the copyright file for non-trivial packages
would become even larger, and presumably more frustrating for the ftp team
to review, if this was considered to be unacceptable).

Can you also combine licenses, like this real-life example from gtk+4.0?

    Files: *
     2009-2010 A S Alam
     (... 380 other copyright holders ...)
    License: LGPL-2+ and LGPL-2.1+

(some files are LGPL-2+, some are LGPL-2.1+, keeping track of which ones
significantly increases the length and maintenance cost of the file for
what seems to be little or no benefit)

or even this?

    Files: *
     2009-2010 A S Alam
     (... around 390 other copyright holders ...)
    License: LGPL-2+ and LGPL-2.1+ and CC0-1.0 and (Expat or unlicense) and ...

(some files are LGPL-2+, some are LGPL-2.1+, some are under one of the
permissive licenses mentioned)

Rationale for wanting to do this: I suspect that for our purposes it
doesn't actually matter which individual files are under which permissive
licenses, as long as we document each license that is applicable, and
each copyright holder. The license that we, and our users, actually
have to obey when dealing with the source and binary packages is the
intersection of all the applicable licenses.


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