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Re: DEP-5 (copyright file format) ... gap with practice

Osamu Aoki <osamu@debian.org> writes:

> It may be good to have a set of specifically defined file types for
> exclusion in DEP-5 policy.  Then we can skip listing them in the
> copyright file.  The helper script can generate a template for the
> copyright file in line with the actual practice and not to contradict
> with the DEP-5 policy.

The general rule of thumb appears to be that, provided that the files are
DFSG-free and don't pose any surprises or conflicts, there's no need to
exhaustively document any source files that are only used as part of the
build system and don't contribute code to the binary package.

I've wanted to document this explicitly in Policy for a while, but the
blocker is that I've never been able to get anyone to commit to a clear
enough rule that it felt like something we could put in Policy.  For
example, I'm not sure if it applies to the build system in general, or if
it's specifically for Autoconf, Automake, Libtool, and friends, which have
very well-known and standard license behavior and are common across vast
swaths of the archive.

If we had a concrete rule, we could document it in Policy.

Personally, I just document the licenses of all of those files in my
debian/copyright files, but I also automated that (with a truly awful and
horrible Perl script).  And I'm not sure that documentation is really of
much use.

> ( I think the following must not be skipped.)
> (  LGPL-2.0+                                )
> (  * m4/vapigen.m4                          )

I think it's fine to skip that as well if one skips any of this, since it
doesn't pose any more license issues than any of the rest of the files you
list.  (Actually, it probably just converts to GPL-2 or GPL-3 for the
purposes of generating the build system, given the license of the source
of the rest of the output files to which it contributes.)

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

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