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Re: Yearless copyrights: what do people think?

On February 22, 2023 2:29:08 PM UTC, Jonas Smedegaard <jonas@jones.dk> wrote:
>Quoting Peter Pentchev (2023-02-22 14:26:47)
>> On Wed, Feb 22, 2023 at 01:55:02PM +0100, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:
>> > Quoting Peter Pentchev (2023-02-22 10:49:30)
>> > > So I've seen this idea floating around in the past couple of years
>> > > (and in some places even earlier), but I started doing it for
>> > > the couple of pieces of software that I am upstream for after reading
>> > > Daniel Stenberg's blog entry:
>> > >   https://daniel.haxx.se/blog/2023/01/08/copyright-without-years/
>> > > 
>> > > And then, a couple of weeks ago, I quietly checked whether
>> > > the Debian FTP team would be okay with that by uploading two NEW
>> > > packages without any years mentioned in the debian/copyright file:
>> > > either upstream or for my Debian packaging. And, lo and behold,
>> > > they were both accepted (python-parse-stages and python-test-stages).
>> > > 
>> > > So how do people feel about this in general, would it be okay for
>> > > me to start doing it:
>> > > a) for other packages that I maintain personally, outside any team
>> > > b) for team-maintained packages (I guess this one might be a per-team
>> > >    decision, discussed separately on the appropriate lists)
>> > > 
>> > > (obviously, I'm not asking for permission or anything; apparently
>> > >  at least one member of the FTP team is okay with me doing it at
>> > >  least for some packages. This is more of a "float the idea, see
>> > >  what people think about doing this more widely, not just me")
>> [snip useful information]
>> > As a redistributor I find it a good practice to include most possible
>> > copyright and licensing information provided by upstream authors,
>> > exactly because we are doing a service for our users, and it is a slight
>> > disservice to omit information that upstream put effort into tracking
>> > and publishing.
>> Wait, I may have been unclear. I did not mean that I want to omit
>> the upstream copyright years *when they are there*. And, of course,
>> if upstream does not specify any copyright years, we cannot invent
>> any out of thin air. So I guess my question was mainly what people
>> think about dropping the years in the debian/* copyright notice
>> (packaging files, patches, etc).
>Your rephrased question seems the same to me - so perhaps I was
>It is my inderstanding that when copyright years are missing from
>upstream source then that is acceptable for Debian redistribution (i.e.
>not a surprise to me that ftpmaster approves it).
>It is my opinion that when copyright years do exist in upstream source,
>then we should list those known-to-us years in debian/copyright (a.k.a.
>not omit them a.k.a. not drop them), even though we are legally not
>required¹ to do so (for the same reason as upstream above is not legally
>required to state copyright at all).
> - Jonas
>¹ Unless some licensing requires listing copyright *years* which from
>the top of my head I do not recall having seen, but am too lazy to check
>- also because my interest is not to cut corners most possible but to be
>as helpful to our users as possible, and copyright years serve a real
>(albeit cornercase) purpose.

You won't encounter it in license texts this way.  Many licenses require complete/verbatim inclusion of the copyright claims.  If you remove the years, you aren't doing that.

Scott K

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