Bug#768292: debian-policy: please allow copyright file to refer to license text in separate files
Simon McVittie wrote:
> My understanding is that Markus' question in that thread was orthogonal:
> "is the exact license grant really required, or is the license itself
> enough?" (for terminology see my reply at
> I would also appreciate a canonical answer on that
A license grant is required. (I'm speaking as an end-user. I am not
an ftpmaster, but I don't think that's particularly relevant.)
Otherwise there's no clear indication that upstream was actually
telling me I have permission to use, modify, and distribute the code
under that license, instead of meaning to say, for instance, that that
license is pleasant reading matter.
An explicit license grant from upstream like "/* License: GPLv2 */"
along with a pointer to the text in common-licenses seems good enough
to me, though. Is that what you're referring to?
I find the text "verbatim copy" from policy 2.3 to be problematic for
reasons I've talked about before (summary: it's too vague), but I
assume that's orthogonal to what you're talking about. Maybe there
should be a footnote attached to "distribution license" saying that
license text without context is not magical and we care about the
actual license grant. Would that help?