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Bug#593533: debian-policy: Proposal to stop requesting to list initial Debian maintainers in debian/copyright

On 19.08.2010 09:37, Russ Allbery wrote:
"Giacomo A. Catenazzi"<cate@debian.org>  writes:

No, I think it is wrong!

The debian/copyright also include packaging copyright. I think the part
involved in this proposal is for such reasons.  So IMHO we must still
require the names of packagers (and the specific license).

We've never said or required that, though.  All we've required is that
debian/copyright contain any relevant copyright notices and any licenses.
I agree that if there are any for the Debian packaging, they should be in
debian/copyright (and I think that's already covered by the other
language), but it's common practice (if arguably sloppy) in the archive to
not put a specific license on the packaging (in which case I think
everyone in the free software community would assume it's under the same
license as the rest of the work since that's pretty much standard usage).
And it's relatively rare for Debian packagers to put explicit copyright
notices on things.

Maybe I misunderstand, but dh-make put explicitly at the bottom of

: The Debian packaging is (C) #YEAR#, #USERNAME# <#EMAIL#> and
: is licensed under the GPL, see above.

See /usr/share/debhelper/dh_make/licenses/*

I meant about the specific debian files. I really think that the
patches should have the same license as the upstream.

Anyway, I agree that the information are already there, so
the proposal is useless. IMHO it is good to repeat (what
was implicit said in first paragraph) that we need the same
information for upstream side and packing side.

Copyright notices are strictly optional in countries that are signatories
to Berne.  If the copyright holder doesn't put one on, we're under no
obligation to invent one.

I agree, but this is also the problem: by default a work is
*full protected* by copyright. Thus we need to explicitly grant
at minimun the DFSG basic rights.

Also the initial debian packager should ask upstream for authorisation
to pack the original software, and such information is important for
legal reasons, thus we must know who where the initial debian packager.

Surely not... if we have to ask anyone for authorization to package
something, it at the very least is non-free, and if we have to know who
that person is for legal reasons, I'm skeptical that it's even
redistributable in non-free since we often will have no way of contacting
that person nor are any sort of legal signatory to any agreements they

Not really, but this is becoming off-topic.
The debian reasons was something like:
we are packagers and not developers, so we need a cooperative upstream
(and we should not pack a packages that upstream want to obsolete).

But IMHO having an authorization give us a better legal base:
The author acknowledge that the package is really distributable
(errors happens), and it give a light base about using
the package name (trademarks).
Such things are not legally binding, but we can at minimum demonstrate
that we was not in bad faith, and give judge some acknowledgement of
intents of both sides.


PS: probably there is also a "license -> contract", but I don't
know if such things is better or not.

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