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Re: Missing changelog file

Rock Storm <rockstorm@gmx.com> writes:

> I would like to package a program into Debian that is distributed
> under a GPL-3 license but currently has no changelog file.

Is the work derived from a different copyright holder's work? Was that
work received under condition of the GPL also?

> Upstream does not [a changelog] with the latest release and I’ve been
> told that this is a requirement for software licensed under this kind
> of license.

Told by whom? Can we see a URL to that online, so we can see the person
explain the requirement?

> Since the upstream development is done using “git” it has been
> suggested to include the output of “git log” as the changelog.

I agree with yuo it's not helpful to dump the entire log of all commits
as the changelog. The changelog document should be aimed to the
recipient of the released code base, not the VCS.

> Is the existence of an upstream changelog file mandatory in order to
> distribute this software under the GPL-3?

GPL v3 §5 states conditions for receiving a work with GPLv3 license, and
then deriving your own work from it. (In that section, “you” means the
person who makes modifications and distributes the derived work.)

GPL v3 §5.a. requires that “The work must carry prominent notices
stating that you modified it, and giving a relevant date.”

This condition is conventionally satisfied by including the
end-user-facing change log as a document in the work.

> Will it be compliant with the DFSG to incorporate this software into
> Debian without an upstream changelog file?

If upstream has themselves derived from a prior work under the
conditions of GPL, then I think they violate the license if they do not
include a log of changes made.

 \       “Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish |
  `\                                            the rest.” —Mark Twain |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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