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Bug#487201: MPL in common-licenses and convenience of packaging mozilla extensions

Jonathan Nieder <jrnieder@gmail.com> writes:

> Allowing debian/copyright to rely on files _other_ than the common
> licenses in base-files would be a larger and different change, so
> off-topic for this bug.  Unless done carefully, I don't think it's a
> good idea.

It's important to remember that Debian has a basic legal requirement to
provide the licensing terms with the packages that we distribute, and
those packages are potentially independent of each other from a legal
perspective.  Just because one package has a dependency on another doesn't
mean that someone is required to download both packages, and when we
distribute packages that do not include required legal texts, we're on
shaky ground.

The project decided to say that our packages are intended for use on a
Debian system with the essential Debian packages installed and hence not
duplicate licenses that are in base-files, which I think is a bit of a
hand-wave, but which lets us avoid shipping 20,000 copies of the GPL.  The
legal requirements are generally quite clear, and the ideal legal position
to be in is inclusion of relevant license texts in every package so that
the individual object that we distribute is legally complete.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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