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On 28/08/11 01:31, Russ Allbery wrote:
> Ximin Luo <infinity0@gmx.com> writes:
>> The cost of the initial setup means that people don't do this in
>> practise. I have not come across a single debian/copyright file with the
>> full MPL text in it. Having a unified shared package for licenses makes
>> this a lot easier.
> I think this has more to do with the fact that most work covered by the
> MPL is covered by multiple licenses, there are questions as to whether the
> MPL is even a free software license, and the maintainers of some such
> packages have stated that they don't consider the MPL to be a license in
> effect for Debian's purposes.  I believe that is, for example, the reason
> why the MPL is not included in the iceweasel debian/copyright file.  (In
> fact, I suspect most of the reference rather than inclusion of the MPL is
> because people are just copying the practice of the iceweasel package
> without giving it much thought.)

Thanks for the explanation; I didn't find this in the places I looked. Still,
the fact that "the right way" takes much more effort than the multitude of
"wrong" ways is not a good thing.

>> This is flawed logic. Because there is no standard for this, and because
>> this is a side issue from actual package work, every maintainer needs to
>> work out this solution for themselves, and does things in a slightly
>> different way.
> I agree that the divergence and re-solving of the same problem is
> unfortunate, but I don't think that's a very strong argument for inclusion
> in common-licenses.  It's a good argument for improving the documentation
> and resources available to packagers, such as wider dissemination of the
> DEP-5 copyright format.

Well at the moment only humans can edit this format. Making humans pass around
huge swathes of text isn't a great idea, practically speaking. I'm curious why
you guys didn't decide to e.g. specify that License blocks simply point to a
file that contains, and only contains, the verbatim license (which the source
package would usually have.)

>> You missed my point. Verbatim text in copyright may be mechanically
>> extractable, but not easily verifiable. It's hard in the general case to
>> verify that a license block called "MPL" actually contains the full
>> correct MPL text, both for machines and humans.
> It's trivial to reverse the quoting for DEP-5 format.  It's somewhat
> harder if the license was reformatted in the process of quoting it.  But,
> regardless, writing code to verify that the maintainer did not err in
> assembling the debian/copyright file is not something that I've heard
> people previously want to do.  Are you aware of some initiative here that
> Policy work would make easier?

Rewrapping can be quite tempting for short blocks. Also, some people have the
preference of removing line-breaks to have one paragraph per line (e.g.
/usr/share/doc/openjdk-6-jre/copyright). Also, when you do something like,
copy-and-paste a GPL2 block then changing the words to fit LGPL2, it's easy to
make mistakes.

I just see this as extra cruft and redunancy that doesn't benefit anything.
There's no loss to just pointing readers to a shared system file, whereas you
would gain easier maintenance of the file, better readability, etc.

If you were to write a program that could report the copyright status of every
single file on the system, it would be weird if you showed a slightly different
GPL3 for different files. Even if you parsed a license text to a canonical
form, I doubt this would be a visually pleasing form, or even one that has a
coherent logical structure. e.g. Steve suggested collapsing whitespace - but
this loses (e.g.) paragraph information.

Anyone who actually wanted to write such a program, would have it present a
standard GPL3 when it detects that a file is under GPL3. That seems the most
natural way to do it.

> I want to be sure we're solving problems that we actually have, not
> problems that we anticipate that we could have but that have not yet been
> encountered.
> The MPL 1.1, to be clear, does continue to have one of the better claims
> of any license that's been put forward for inclusion in common-licenses
> recently.  But I'm still finding Ian's argument at:
>     http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=487201#64
> fairly persuasive.

Realistically, I don't think anyone is going to choose the MPL simply because
they see it in /usr/share/common-licenses. Also, it seems the anti-MPL stance
is just from a few people, rather than the Debian project as a whole, e.g. [1]
says it's fine. It would be equally wrong to omit the MPL for the same reason.

[1] http://wiki.debian.org/DFSGLicenses#Mozilla_Public_License_.28MPL.29


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