(... and the BSD license)

Two comments about Romain's recent REJECT.

  1. The specific case concerns a BSD-licensed source file. With respect to copyright notices BSD is rather peculiar, as can be read in the license text, at its second point

     Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above
     copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following
     disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials
     provided with the distribution.

    So, the requirement of mentioning in debian/copyright authors (or, more precisely, all copyright owners appearing in a given source package) has nothing to do with DFSG, it is a requirement imposed by the license itself.

  2. I actually don't think that « there is no will to do a move on this issue », quite the contrary. The last time the issue was raised (remember the giantic thread on copyright authors of several months ago?), I got the impression that there is a widespread will of getting rid of the burden of maintaining copyright lists up to date. What is not clear is whether, for licenses other than BSD, it is actually legally acceptable to do that.

    This issue is one of the pending questions that has been posed (by the DPL) to the SPI lawyer. AFAIK, no answer has been received yet. I "just" lack a bit more of visibility on these issues (e.g. a wiki page with pending queries to SPI lawyer) so that we avoid running in circles, as we are doing here.

BSD copyright notice.

I do not believe that the requirement of a copyright notice in the binary form is needed in the case of debian packages.

We already ship the corresponding source code, and a debian package is a consistent unit of both a source and a binary package.

To me, the copyright notice, in the spirit of the BSD license, is a case specific to the binary-only distribution, which the license allows but that we do not do.

Ok, I am not a lawyer, so this needs clarifications.

But in any case, it should also be clear that the copyright statement should be mandatory in the copyright file only when the license requires it.

To me it is exactly the same as for the GFDL decision and the existence of non modifiable parts: stick back to the principles and act accordingly...

Comment by toots Sun 06 Sep 2009 06:17:00 PM CEST
re: BSD copyright notice

Of course I agree that the copyright notice, as a default, should be reported in the copyright file only when the license precisely requires that. Unfortunately, the fact that I agree is not enough :-) and that's why I hope in a clear answer from "our" lawyer.

Still, I'm convinced that BSD is one such a case where we must put the (full) copyright notice in debian/copyright. It is true that Debian has as its distribution units both source and binary packages. But it is also true that our users can choose among them and that, by default, we only distribute binary packages. Distributing them with the copyright notice required by the BSD license would be a license violation.

Comment by zack Mon 07 Sep 2009 10:06:18 AM CEST