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Re: Debian package for Elmer - Re: ITP: Elmer -- Finite element software for multiphysics problems

Hello Mikko,

And let me thank you and CSC for being a model upstream partner in the
effort to make a high-quality Debian package for such a wonderful piece
of software.  Your responsiveness, openness to patches, and willingness
to discuss license issues have all been far above and beyond any other
similar organization that I have worked with.

On Thu, 2008-11-13 at 23:49 +0200, Mikko Lyly wrote:
> Hello Adam,
> First of all, thank you for your effort, it is greatly appreciated.
> >The only two ways to get around this are:
> >      * Get the ARPACK people to drop the non-free requirements of their
> >        license (see http://bugs.debian.org/491794 ).
> >      * Change the license of Elmer either to something like LGPL or to
> >        grant an explicit GPL exception to link with ARPACK (and maybe
> >        Metis?).
> >Both of these are, of course, beyond the scope of this maintainer... :-(
> I do understand the problem, but could you please elaborate the Debian
> point of view?
> I think we are good wrt the licence of Arpack (we reproduce the
> copyright notice in the documentaion, at least, as required by Arpack
> license for binary distributions, as well as for source).

Indeed, you're fine as far as your distribution is concerned; as far as
I can tell no GPL code in the fem directory written by others which is
linked to ARPACK.  As the Elmer copyright holder, you just need to abide
by the ARPACK license, and can do whatever you want with the Elmer code.

But if Debian redistributes it, and the code changes hands, the owner of
the Elmer copyright can in theory restrict Debian from distributing it.
The reason is that, at least under the FSF and Debian interpretation,
linking GPL code with libraries with more restrictions creates a derived
work which violates the terms of the GPL.  Debian is very particular
about making sure we are always "in the clear" about any potential
copyright issue.

> LGPL for Elmer is unfortunately not possible at the moment, but an GLP
> exception might be taken under consideration.
> How would you like to see the exception be documented for being
> compatible with Debian policies?

I'm afraid I don't have enough experience with this to give good advice
here.  Can someone on debian-legal perhaps provide an example of a
copyright statement which provides such an GPL exception?

Thank you again,
GPG fingerprint: D54D 1AEE B11C CE9B A02B  C5DD 526F 01E8 564E E4B6

Engineering consulting with open source tools

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