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Re: Yearless copyrights: what do people think?

Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> writes:
> On Wed, Feb 22, 2023 at 08:20:27AM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:

>> Unfortunately, it's often against the upstream license.

>>     Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
>>     modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
>>     are met:
>>     1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
>>        notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

>> and:

>>     The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be
>>     included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

> It says you need to do that, yes. It does not say *where* that copyrigh
> statement must be.

While this is true, we don't put the copyright statements anywhere else in
binary packages.

I think arguing that having them in the source package is a stretch for
those licenses, since they don't give any special significance to source
distributions and the normal way of using the archive is to download the
binary package without the source.  The Expat license specifically says
"all copies"; it doesn't say that if you distribute a few different forms
of the software, you can leave the copyright notice out of some of them.

I agree that we would satisfy the license if we had a separate file in the
binary package that collected all the copyright notices, but we don't;
that's the copyright file.

All that said, I think the chances that anyone would care enough about
this to sue is fairly low.  But not zero -- there do exist bad-faith
copyright holders who are looking for excuses to sue (although they're
thankfully quite rare in free software).

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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