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Re: DEP-5 and public domain

On Mon, Aug 02, 2010 at 05:52:30PM +0200, Bernhard R. Link wrote:
> * Colin Watson <cjwatson@debian.org> [100802 17:28]:
> > base-passwd ships passwd.master and group.master files which are
> > intentionally public domain.  I received a bug report
> > (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/base-passwd/+bug/610108)
> > noting that "License: PD" isn't valid in DEP-5.  Ideally, I'd like to
> > say something like "Copyright: PD" and omit the License field, but of
> > course the License field is currently always required.

> > Would it be possible to make the License field optional in the case of
> > "Copyright: PD", or is there some other better change that should be
> > made to accommodate this?

> It would be nice to have an author recorded anyway.

That does not mean the copyright field is the correct place to record it.
The copyright field should be used to identify copyright holders, *not
authors*; if you want a separate author field we can discuss that but we
should not be populating fields with clear English names using values
incompatible with the field meaning.

Even outside of public domain issues, it is *frequently* the case that
copyright holders and authors are not congruent - most commonly in the case
of a work for hire.

> (As public domain by years after death of author differs by country and
> can and does change in one country, placing stuff in public domain is
> in other countries just a permissive license, and US government owned
> stuff is not necessarily public domain outside the US).

That's a separate discussion that does not pertain to the semantics of the
DEP.  If you have concerns about whether it is correct to declare a given
work as *being* in the public domain, please discuss that on debian-legal.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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