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Re: how to mention GPL in the debian/copyright file

On Thu, 13 Jan 2005, Jochen Voss wrote:
> I have a question about how to write the debian/copyright file
> for packages which are distributed under the GPL.
> Currently the debian/copyright file of chbg contains the paragraph
>     Chbg is copyrigthed by Ondrejicka Stefan (ondrej@idata.sk).  It is
>     license under the GPL.  On Debian systems, the complete text of the
>     GNU General Public License can be found in the
>     /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL file.

Unfortunatly, this is incorrect. The code is licensed under GPL 2 or
later. (See below where I discuss the issues with this.)

> My questions:
> 1) Is it required to include the above three paragraphs into the
> debian/copyright file?

The debian/copyright file must include the upstream's copyright
statement. This typically includes the three paragraphs listed above.

In your case, it looks like the copyright statement is just the

/*              This code is part of Desktop Background changer            */
/*              called ChBg                                                */
/*              Copyright (c) 1999,2000 Ondrejicka Stefan                  */
/*              (ondrej@idata.sk)                                          */
/*              Distributed under GPL 2 or later                           */

However, I strongly suggest that you talk to upstream, and have
upstream use the form of copyright statement and licensing statement
mentioned in the GNU GPL itself, namely:

    <one line to give the program's name and a brief idea of what it does.>
    Copyright (C) 19yy  <name of author>

    This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
    (at your option) any later version.

    This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    GNU General Public License for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with this program; see the file COPYING.  If not, write to
    the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330,
    Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.

> 2) In case it is not required, is it for some other reason
> preferable to include them?

It is preferable to include them from the upstream maintainer's point
of view, because it makes it explicit what license the work is
released under. In the case of this work, it's very difficult to
accertain what license the images are released under, as there is no
LICENSE or similar file that contains a copyright statement and
license statement covering the entire archive.

While this may seem a bit overdone, it's really in the best interest
of the upstream maintainer to follow the instructions of the GNU GPL
when upstream places code under the GPL.

Don Armstrong

There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good
sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more.  
 -- Woody Allen

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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