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Bug#436105: suggestion to add GPL-1 as a common licence

On Thu, 10 Jun 2010, Russ Allbery wrote:

> Given that, while I'm very sympathetic to Santiago's argument, I also
> think that we should be able to represent in packages their upstream
> licensing statement and not be implicitly relicensing them under later
> versions of the GPL, and without including a bunch of copies of the GPL
> version 1.  The usage of the license is high enough to qualify for
> common-licenses under our normal criteria: long license, used by over 5%
> of the binary packages in the archive, and used in packages that are
> installed on every system (perl-base).
> I therefore propose adding GPL version 1 to the list of licenses said by
> Policy to be in common-licenses and asking Santiago to include a copy in
> base-files.  I'm not including a diff since it would just create merge
> conflicts with the BSD diff proposed earlier today and because it's fairly
> obvious, although I can if people would prefer.

Ok, I agree that it would a good idea to include GPL-1 in common-licenses
because of the high number of packages still using it.

[ Therefore, please clone or reassign this bug back to base-files ].

But please let us not speak about "implicit relicensing". There is no
such thing as "implicit relicensing", the same way there is no such
thing as "implicit licensing" (do don't allow packages in Debian not
having a proper license, do we?).

The blurb in debian/copyright has usually two parts.

The first part might have some legal value (or not, if we consider it
might have typos and the only binding license is the one in orig.tar.gz).

   This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
   it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
   the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option)
   any later version.

   This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
   but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
   GNU General Public License for more details.

The second part is for *informational purposes* only and we should not
pretend it has legal value, not even in implicit sense.

   You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
   along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation,
   Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.  */

The FSF itself has recently changed the "informational purposes" part
and they now point to the Web.

Then we usually add this little blurb:

On Debian GNU/Linux systems, the complete text of the GNU General
Public License can be found in `/usr/share/common-licenses/GPL'.

which is an addon to the previous paragraph, so it's for informational
purposes as well.

Thus, I see no reason to use a versioned license when the license says
"version foo or later". If we say "GPL is here" and there is a policy
that GPL is a symlink that always point to the latest version, then
the paragraph saying "GPL is here" is equivalent to "The latest
version of GPL is here". That's a fact. No relicensing anywhere.

I know this is not directly related to inclusion or not of GPLv1 in
common-licenses, but as people keep talking about "implicit relicensing"
I wanted to point that IMHO such thing does not exist.


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