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Re: Missing licenses in upstream source files

(We're now in ‘debian-legal’ territory; please follow up there.)

Dominik Smatana <dominik.smatana@gmail.com> writes:

> One more "license-newbie" question:
> In some upstream source files there is just one single line comment at
> beginning:
> // Please see included LICENSE.TXT
> licensecheck says "UNKNOWN" of course...
> Is such reference to external file sufficient for source files to be
> packed for Debian?

What is needed is an explicit copyright notice and grant of license.
An example:

    Copyright 2009 Ben Finney <ben+debian@benfinney.id.au>
    You have permission to copy, modify, and redistribute under the
    terms of the WTFPL. For full license terms, see LICENSE.txt.

That is, we need the copyright status (who holds it, when did it
begin) and explicit grant of license (what the recipient is permitted
to do with the work) to be unambiguous for every part of the work. Or
in other words, you need enough explicit information, from the
copyright holder, to write the ‘debian/copyright’ file.

If the referenced file has *all* of that, and every part of the work
is unambiguously covered by it, it's enough.

Too often, though, such files are a set of license *terms* only (e.g.
the text of the GPL), with no copyright status or explicit *grant* of
license. That's not enough for Debian to know the rights of
recipients: mere inclusion of license terms is not a grant of license
under those terms.

 \      “I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its |
  `\   eggs in my brain, because later you might think you're having a |
_o__)             good idea but it's just eggs hatching.” —Jack Handey |
Ben Finney

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