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Re: Licensecheck returns UNKOWN, but it's GPL

Luca Niccoli <lultimouomo@gmail.com> writes:

> I have an other problem with licensecheck:
> it doesn't check .h files if given multiple files as an argument.

If you can come up with a reproducible test case for ‘licensecheck’
not behaving as it should, submit it as a bug report.

> Actually, I was missing that there are three header files without
> copyright statement.
> I'm a bit lost at dealing with copyright, because in the Debian policy
> manual and in the new maintainers guide all the information is about
> the copyright of the whole package/program: does every single file
> need to have his own copyright statement?

More precisely, the ‘debian/copyright’ file must give the correct
copyright status of every component of the work.

Files are the most common unit of “components of a work”, and it's
easiest in the long run if every file self-evidently makes clear its
copyright status and grant of license. If your upstream is amenable to
it, it's appreciated to make that information clear in each file where
it makes sense to do so.

But no, it's not strictly necessary under copyright law, nor under
Debian Policy. It's more that the burden of knowing the true copyright
status of a work as it changes over time is made more difficult if
that information doesn't follow the individual files around.

> I'm sorry if my questions are dumb, but I have to struggle to
> understand IP law...

Note that “intellectual property” is confusing a misnomer and
doesn't actually refer to anything coherent [0], so it's best not to
use the term. This is an issue of copyright, which *does* exist and
refer to something coherent. (While the law may not be very
comprehensible, the term at least is coherent.)

Dealing with issues of copyright is an unfortunate hazard of the
craft. Thank you for taking it seriously.

[0] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#IntellectualProperty

 \       “The sun never sets on the British Empire. But it rises every |
  `\        morning. The sky must get awfully crowded.” —Steven Wright |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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