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

On Sun, Feb 07, 2010 at 06:59:06PM -0800, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 07, 2010 at 11:49:03AM -0600, Steve M. Robbins wrote:
> > Agreed.  The license for using and distributing the files in the
> > BINARY package is useful and necessary.  But I can't imagine that many
> > binary package users would need the hundreds of copyright statements
> > from multi-author works like the kernel, gcc, libc, etc.  A summary
> > should be fine and for those who really want the details the source
> > package exists.
> Except that the examples you cite are all packages distributed under the GPL
> or the LGPL, and their *license* requires that we reproduce the copyright
> statements[1].

> [1] GPLv2, ?3: "You may copy and distribute the Program in object code under
> the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above [...]"; ?1: "You may copy and distribute
> [...] provided that you [...] conspicuously and appropriately publish on
> each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty"

Notice that this text says "appropriate", not "verbatim".  One might
claim that


     Copyright (C) 1991-2009 Linus Torvalds
     and many others

is "appropriate" for the linux kernel.  Indeed, this is what I find in

> > In this light, I don't understand the motivation for "clarifying"
> > the policy to something that manifestly we're not following.
> The motivation is to put an end to the contrafactual interpretation of this
> clause in Policy that Ben Finney continues to advance in discussions on
> Debian mailing lists.

Really?  The change is aimed to silence one opinion?  I'm surprised.

> I'm not claiming that there's consensus about what the policy for
> debian/copyright *should* be, I'm saying that there's consensus about what
> the current Policy text *means* - at least insofar as it excludes Ben's
> revisionist interpretation that "copyright and distribution license" is only
> meant to refer to a license.
> It's clear that our compliance with this bit of Policy is poor, and it's
> also clear that there's disagreement about whether it should even be
> enforced, so that's a conversation that the Project should have - but claims
> that it never meant copyright notices were supposed to be included in the
> first place only muddle the discussion.

I do understand your point.  I accept that there are members of Debian
who subscribe to your interpretation.  It may well be that the
original Policy writers also subscribed to your interpretation.  I've
only been part of Debian for 9 years, so the discussions around the
policy pre-date me.

However, I maintain that a Policy interpretation that is not enforced
and not widely subscribed to is not really the Policy.


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