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Bug#332782: Please explain the etch-ignore tag

On Sun, Mar 25, 2007 at 01:31:28AM +0100, Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 22, 2007 at 03:45:55PM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > That won't be comprehensive though, because there are a limited number of
> > authorized committers who often commit changes contributed by others.

> Contributors do not necessarily have (c) over the Release Notes, from my
> understanding, only authors have copyrights and the Release Notes clearly
> lists who are the main authors.

Sorry, that's incorrect.  A contributor has copyright over any contribution
they've made which is substantial enough to merit protection under copyright
law.  The line for "substantial enough" varies from jurisdiction to
jurisdiction, but to be on the safe side we should probably treat any
contributions of a paragraph or more to be copyrightable and ask them.  And
if someone has contributed a translation of the release notes to another
language, that's *definitely* subject to its own copyright.

> It is my understanding that if any contributor wanted to assert any
> influence over the license that the Release Notes uses he would first ask
> to have his name added as an author (and, consequently, a (c) owner of the
> text).

Hmm, is this a convention that was prominently documented?  If we're going
to spend effort on fixing the license status, we might as well do it right,
and that would mean not making assumptions about implicit waivers of

> Just for the same reason we don't ask patch submitters in the BTS to sign a
> (c) statement for packages we shouldn't be asking contributors sending
> patches to the BTS (or committing them directly) to do the same for
> documentation. Considering all contributors equal (regardless of "size"),
> with all of them being copyright holders for the Release Notes and having
> veto rights for a license change is insane.

Sorry, but that's the reality of copyright law.  If you disagree that the
contribution of a particular contributor is significant enough that they
should have veto rights over the license, then you can rewrite that part of
the documentation from scratch; if this is non-trivial, then that's a pretty
clear argument that their contribution is of value under copyright law...

> Anyway, if a license change was properly announced beforehand contributors
> that feel that their rights are violated would have ample time to express
> their concerns.

Are there really so many substantial contributors that it would be hard to
ask them all?

> This bug has changed into exactly the same type of discussion that prevents
> #388141 from being fixed any time soon, even though all the web pages have a
> footer that says "this text is copyright SPI" and no contributor has ever
> said that the copyright statement should be ammended to include *him*.

Well, sorry, but that's a bug in the documentation team's process for not
proactively requiring copyright disclaimers.  Well, I mean, you could argue
that it's a bug in copyright law, but we don't have the power to fix that

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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