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Re: License of binary packages

On Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:17:00 +1100 Riley Baird wrote:

> > How is the license of a binary Debian package determined?
> > 
> > The file debian/copyright only contains the license of the sources;
> > however the binary license may differ -- f.e. when a BSD source is
> > linked to a GPL library. Also there is usually more than one license
> > used in the sources.
> I'd say that it would probably be a matter of checking the license for
> all of the sources that were used to make the particular binary that you
> are concerned about - and then, checking the Debian dependencies for
> packages which your binary links to, in case there is a GPL-like linking
> clause.

That's the way to go, as far as I know.
Unfortunately, it may be tedious and time consuming in some
cases...  :-(

> > Since Debian is a binary distribution, I am wondering if there is any
> > canonical way to get the license of a (binary) package?
> Not that I know of, unfortunately. Hopefully someone else will have an idea.

I am not aware of any requirement (in the current Debian Policy) to
document the effective license for binary packages.
The debian/copyright file is intended for clearly documenting the
licensing status of source packages, not the effective licenses of
binary packages built from them.

You may want to take a look at:


The whole bug log could be an interesting read, but it's quite long, so
please check it out only if you are searching for a way to kill
time!  ;-)

I am not aware of any update on the matter: I suppose the determination
of the effective licenses of binary packages is still something to be
done manually.

I hope this answers Ole's question, although maybe in a disappointing

 fsck is a four letter word...
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
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