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Re: Disclaimers in submitted patches

Don Armstrong writes ("Re: Disclaimers in submitted patches"):
> On Sun, 15 Feb 2015, Christoph Biedl wrote:
> > every now and then I receive submissions (i.e. patches) by e-mail for
> > packages I maintain. Sometimes a disclaimer¹ is part of that message,
> > a text that denies me from doing certain things with that e-mail -
> > like copying or disclosing the message.
> > 
> > In my opinion using such a patch for an upload would violate that
> > clause and therefore might even put the Debian project in jeopardy.
> There's no real difference between a message with a disclaimer, and one
> without.

I think this depends on the text of the disclaimer (and perhaps on the

Most of these disclaimers are anodyne and say something like "this
message is just for the intended recipient and if you have received it
in error you must blah blah blah".

But if there is more, it would have to be read in the context of the
rest of the mail.

I think the right approach is this: since you should include the text
of your email exchange in the package (to confirm the copyright
status), you should include the disclaimer too.

If you have a specific disclaimer in mind we could review it here.

> The only question is the actual  license of the patch. If the person
> authoring the patch grants a license (or the patch cannot be covered by
> copyright), then there's no problem.

Well, yes, but:

 * The human being who wrote the patch may not own the copyright;
   perhaps it is owned by their employer.  In that case it may be the
   employer who has to grant permission.  Maybe the author is entitled
   to do so on behalf of the employer, or maybe not.  But if the email
   has some kind of disclaimer saying the employee is not authorised
   to bind the company then there is definitely a problem.

 * We want to be able to reproduce the email so that we have good
   evidence of the permission, which can be used when and by whom it
   is needed.  That means we need to publish the email.  Normally
   permission to do so would be implied.  If the disclaimer actually
   forbids doing so then we probably need some separate permission
   (perhaps in the body of the email).


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