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Re: Proposed: Debian's Five Freedoms for Free Works

David B Harris <david@eelf.ddts.net> writes:

> One thing I don't think that's entirely clear is about the labelling of
> your changes. The GPL specifies that you must put a notice in a given
> file detailing the date and nature of the changes.
> Such may or may not be considered part of the copyright notice, and I'd
> like to see point #3 amended to say that the license may require notices
> of modification within the source material should it be redistributed.
> Or however you want to work it in :)

When I read "You must cause the modified files to carry prominent
notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change"
[GPL section 2(a)], I notice a conspicuous lack of any requirements of
elaborate record keeping. I think that the required notice would look
something like this:

// Foomatic v1.4 - a command-line utility for doing a particular thing
// Copyright 2002 Sum-Wun Elss
// Changed 5/10/2003 - 5/25/2003 by Gregory K. Johnson
// Changes Copyright 2003 Gregory K. Johnson
// This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
// [and so on]

There's no explicit requirement that the change notice include an
itemized or line-by-line record of changes or even that it describe
the nature of the changes. From a privacy standpoint, there is not
even a requirement that the author identify himself. The change notice
could just as easily include these lines:

// Changed 5/10/2003 - 5/25/2003 by Anonymous Hacker
// Changes hereby placed into the public domain


// Changed 5/10/2003 - 5/25/2003 by Anonymous Hacker
// Copyright hereby assigned to Sum-Wun Elss

I think the GPL preamble explains the FSF's decision: "If the software
is modified by someone else and passed on, we want its recipients to
know that what they have is not the original, so that any problems
introduced by others will not reflect on the original authors'

Gregory K. Johnson

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