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Re: licensing question for "nom.tam.fits"

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Dear Francesco,

fortunately, the upstream author Thomas MyGlynn made a new release for
which he added a statement that the code is in the public domain.

In my debian package which can be found at
I chose the GPL-3 for the debian/* files but a guy from the debian-science
mailing list suggested to put the Debian package under a less restrictive

Thus my question is which license should be chosen in the case that
the sources are in the public domain?

Best regards,

Am 28.08.2012 19:19, schrieb Francesco Poli:
> On Tue, 28 Aug 2012 15:37:46 +0200 Florian Rothmaier wrote:
>> Hi to everyone involved in debian-legal,
> Hello!
>> I've got a licensing issue related to the astronomical Java library
>> "fits" ("nom.tam.fits") from Thomas McGlynn.
>> The newest release can be obtained at:
>> http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/heasarc/fits/java/v1.0/v1.08.1/ .
>> In the code, I find the following copyright statement:
>> /* Copyright: Thomas McGlynn 1997-1999.
>>  * This code may be used for any purpose, non-commercial
>>  * or commercial so long as this copyright notice is retained
>>  * in the source code or included in or referred to in any
>>  * derived software.
>>  */
>> When I wrote an e-mail to Thomas McGlynn, he replied:
>> "I believe the lines you quote are themselves the entirety of the
>> license. There was no intent to associate this with any specific more
>> general license."
> Unfortunately these "license lines" do not seem to be enough to make the
> library clearly Free Software.
> I think they are far too vague and implicit:
>   - the term "use" is ambiguous at best; does it just cover running a
>     program that links with library? or is it implicitly intended to
>     also cover other activities such as copying, modification,
>     redistribution of verbatim and modified copies?
>   - there's no explicit permission to copy and redistribute
>   - there is a reference to derived software, but no explicit
>     permission to create and distribute such derived software
> I believe that such "license lines" make the library unsuitable for
> distribution in Debian (main) or even in the non-free archive.
>> Now, I'm not sure how to proceed.
> [...]
>> I'd appreciate your help!
> If you want this library to be included in Debian, I think you should
> contact its copyright holder again and persuade him to re-license the
> library in a clearly DFSG-free manner, preferably under the terms of a
> well known and widely used Free Software license.
> I would personally recommend the copyright holder to re-license the
> library under the terms of the Expat/MIT license [1], which is very
> simple and similar in spirit to the goals that were probably in the
> mind of the drafter of the above quoted "license lines".
> [1] http://www.jclark.com/xml/copying.txt
>> Thanks in advance
> You're welcome, I hope this helps.
>> and please cc me in your replies since I'm not
>> subscribed to "debian-legal".
> Done.
> Bye and good luck with your persuasion effort!

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