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Old 01-13-2008, 08:13 AM
"Steve M. Robbins"
 
Default Bug#459511: Consider adding Perl License to common-licenses

On Wed, Jan 09, 2008 at 10:28:27AM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
> "Steve M. Robbins" <steve@sumost.ca> writes:
> > On Tue, Jan 08, 2008 at 11:18:24PM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
>
> >> I don't think it makes sense to include in common-licenses something
> >> that's just a reference to other common licenses. It's not like the
> >> boilerplate text for Perl modules is long; it's only about six lines,
> >> and you'd still need to include at least a couple of lines to refer to
> >> the file in common-licenses anyway.
>
> > True. But as I carefully explained: in my view, it's not about saving
> > bytes; it's about labelling. And about avoiding copying errors, which
> > manifestly take place.
>
> Wouldn't http://wiki.debian.org/Proposals/CopyrightFormat be a better way
> to address the labelling concern?

Thanks for the link. I like the proposal from the point of view of
labelling.

However:

(1) This is only a proposal; common-licenses exists today.

(2) I didn't grasp from the proposal whether the fully license text
must appear in the copyright file (or in common-licenses). If we can
simply put "License: GPL-1+ | Artistic" for a perl module, then I'm
happy. If we have to put that PLUS the prose of the Perl license,
then we're no further ahead.


> As for copying errors, I don't disagree, but there are also a lot of Perl
> modules that *aren't* covered under the same terms as Perl or that have
> little niggling variations. We should also be including the copyright
> statements from the authors in the Debian copyright file.

At present, yes I agree that we should include the authors' copyright
statements.

Perhaps I should mention what started this whole bug report. I
uploaded a package that included a Perl module with the following
license.

# Copyright (c) 1995-98 Greg Ward. All rights reserved. This package is
# free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same
# terms as Perl itself.

When I tried to upload the package with *the author's* copyright
statement in debian/copyrights (together with a reference to
/usr/share/doc/perl/copyright), it was rejected by the ftp admins on
the grounds of the following lintian error:

copyright-file-lacks-pointer-to-perl-license

If your package is released under the same terms as Perl itself,
it should refer to the Artistic and GPL license files in the
/usr/share/common-licenses directory.

Refer to Policy Manual, section 12.5 for details.

This forces me to REPLACE or AUGMENT the author statement with my own
text. This is how the aforementioned copying errors arise.


> I guess I'm a
> bit skeptical that we gain that much in overall correctness in the
> copyright file by providing easy access to boilerplate for people to refer
> to. I'm worried that we'd just trade one form of errors (copying
> mistakes) for another (referring to the boilerplate when it isn't
> appropriate or without including sufficient information about the
> non-boilerplate parts, like the copyright statement).

I agree that someone might be sloppy about the license and
inappropriately point to the boilerplate. But it is also true that
today someone could be sloppy and inappropriately copy the text of
/usr/share/doc/perl/copyright. I don't imagine that the presense of
Perl's license in common-licenses would make it more likely; do you?

To be clear: In all cases, the author copyright would be copied into
debian/copyright. In those cases where it mentions something about
"the same terms as perl", you can simply add a line to the effect "The
Perl license may be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/Perl" rather
than cutting and pasting the contents of
/usr/share/doc/perl/copyright.


Cheers,
-Steve
 
Old 01-13-2008, 04:49 PM
Russ Allbery
 
Default Bug#459511: Consider adding Perl License to common-licenses

"Steve M. Robbins" <steve@sumost.ca> writes:
> On Wed, Jan 09, 2008 at 10:28:27AM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
>> "Steve M. Robbins" <steve@sumost.ca> writes:
>> > On Tue, Jan 08, 2008 at 11:18:24PM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:

>>>> I don't think it makes sense to include in common-licenses something
>>>> that's just a reference to other common licenses. It's not like the
>>>> boilerplate text for Perl modules is long; it's only about six lines,
>>>> and you'd still need to include at least a couple of lines to refer to
>>>> the file in common-licenses anyway.

>>> True. But as I carefully explained: in my view, it's not about saving
>>> bytes; it's about labelling. And about avoiding copying errors, which
>>> manifestly take place.

>> Wouldn't http://wiki.debian.org/Proposals/CopyrightFormat be a better way
>> to address the labelling concern?
>
> Thanks for the link. I like the proposal from the point of view of
> labelling.
>
> However:
>
> (1) This is only a proposal; common-licenses exists today.

Yes, but it's not really a good labelling solution, IMO.

> (2) I didn't grasp from the proposal whether the fully license text
> must appear in the copyright file (or in common-licenses). If we can
> simply put "License: GPL-1+ | Artistic" for a perl module, then I'm
> happy. If we have to put that PLUS the prose of the Perl license,
> then we're no further ahead.

Hm. You said that the concern was about labelling. The labelling is
there whether you have to include the license text as well as the label or
not. How could this be "no further ahead"?

> At present, yes I agree that we should include the authors' copyright
> statements.
>
> Perhaps I should mention what started this whole bug report. I
> uploaded a package that included a Perl module with the following
> license.
>
> # Copyright (c) 1995-98 Greg Ward. All rights reserved. This package is
> # free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same
> # terms as Perl itself.
>
> When I tried to upload the package with *the author's* copyright
> statement in debian/copyrights (together with a reference to
> /usr/share/doc/perl/copyright), it was rejected by the ftp admins on
> the grounds of the following lintian error:
>
> copyright-file-lacks-pointer-to-perl-license
>
> If your package is released under the same terms as Perl itself,
> it should refer to the Artistic and GPL license files in the
> /usr/share/common-licenses directory.
>
> Refer to Policy Manual, section 12.5 for details.
>
> This forces me to REPLACE or AUGMENT the author statement with my own
> text. This is how the aforementioned copying errors arise.

You have to augment the statement with additional wording no matter what,
whether that be pointers to the GPL and to the Artistic license or a
pointer to a file that says the same thing. Copying and pasting one text
isn't more difficult than the other.

> I agree that someone might be sloppy about the license and
> inappropriately point to the boilerplate. But it is also true that
> today someone could be sloppy and inappropriately copy the text of
> /usr/share/doc/perl/copyright. I don't imagine that the presense of
> Perl's license in common-licenses would make it more likely; do you?
>
> To be clear: In all cases, the author copyright would be copied into
> debian/copyright. In those cases where it mentions something about "the
> same terms as perl", you can simply add a line to the effect "The Perl
> license may be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/Perl" rather than
> cutting and pasting the contents of /usr/share/doc/perl/copyright.

Well... for this part of the argument I think we understand each other's
arguments and haven't convinced each other, so it's probably time for
other people to weigh in.

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


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