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Bug#566220: [PATCH] Clarify "verbatim copy of its copyright and distribution license"



"Steve M. Robbins" <steve@sumost.ca> writes:

> I'd have to agree with Jonathan Nieder and Charles Plessy that the
> proposed change does not reflect current consensus.

That's my impression too.

> On Mon, Feb 01, 2010 at 11:50:25AM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
> > Jonathan Nieder <jrnieder@gmail.com> writes:
> > > Instead, I have always read that passage to mean
> > 
> > > 	Every package must be accompanied by a verbatim copy of
> > > 	its copyright information and distribution license in
> > > 	the file /usr/share/doc/<package>/copyright.
> > 
> > I think this is a better wording for the existing situation.
> > However...
>
> I was under the impression that Policy is more descriptive (of
> existing practices) than prescriptive.

There is an additional factor here. Reportedly, the ftpmasters have a
policy that all Debian packages must have all copyright notices for the
package duplicated in the package's ‘copyright’ file.

Common wisdom appears to be that the ftpmasters are the most directly
attributable for distribution of works via the Debian project, so they
are the ones most directly taking legal risk in the event that a package
is not properly licensed. On that basis their opinion on the matter is
deemed to overrule consensus opinion of the Debian project.

The ftpmasters have been remarkably silent in the face of requests
<URL:http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2010/01/msg00443.html>
<URL:http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2010/01/msg00443.html> for
clarification of how this policy is compatible with the observed fact of
a dearth of such all-copyright-notices duplication in the actual Debian
packages.

So the situation we end up with is that there are two contradictory
“existing practices” to document in Debian policy: the actual practice
embodied in Debian packages, and the actual policy expressed by
ftpmasters.

> In this light, I don't understand the motivation for "clarifying"
> the policy to something that manifestly we're not following.
>
> I'd suggest instead to clarify to the current policy on the ground.

I want this also.

Would it make sense to document the above contradiction in some form? I
recognise that it may not be best to have “current affairs” reports in
the policy document, but I also don't see that it makes sense to
document as fact a requirement that is so frequently breached.

-- 
 \                             “I'm a born-again atheist.” —Gore Vidal |
  `\                                                                   |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney <ben@benfinney.id.au>



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