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Re: Bug#431109: [PROPOSAL] Disambiguate of Section 12.5, Deprecate GPL/LGPL symlinks

Robert Millan <rmh@aybabtu.com> writes:

> AISI, the reason for using the unversioned link is that it means less
> work for maintainers (and the work *is* significant when it comes to
> lots of packages) who have to update the copyright file every time
> license changes.

This reason doesn't make any sense to me.  Nothing about the licensing of
the package changes when a new version of the GPL is released, and nothing
should have to change about the copyright file.  It should continue to
point to GPL-2.  The language in the copyright file will already say that
the package is covered under GPL v2 or later, and if the user wants to
apply another license, they can figure it out.

After reading this discussion, I think the right thing to do here is
pretty clearly to phase out the unversioned link.  Every package should
point in their debian/copyright file to the earliest version of the GPL
that the Debian project considers free (if that's ever an issue) and that
the package can be licensed under, and not be updated unless the package
licensing updates.

> Most GPL programs out there are 2-or-later, so we are always allowed to
> distributed as per the latest GPL.

But why would we want to?  We already know the GPL v2 is DFSG-free, so we
have, so far as I can tell, zero motivation to intentionally choose a
later version of the license under which to exercise our rights grant, and
doing so may get us into trouble if assumptions made by the package happen
to not apply with the later version of the GPL.

As far as I can see, the only reason for the Debian project to ever choose
a later version of the GPL when distributing packages is if that later
version offers us some new freedom that we want to exercise, and I've not
heard of any such thing happening yet.

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

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