Licensing guidelines changes

Tom "spot" Callaway tcallawa at
Thu Aug 2 17:56:46 UTC 2007

Today, FESCo ratified a new policy for handling the License tag inside
of package spec files.

You can read the new Licensing Guidelines here:

What does this mean for Fedora package maintainers? It means that you're
going to need to do a little bit of work. We want F8 packages to have
the correct license tag before we release F8.

Some questions (with answers):

Q. Where is the list of approved licenses?
A. It can be found here:

Q. One of my packages uses a license which is not listed, what should I
A. Email the details, along with a copy of the license, to
tcallawa at

Q. One of my packages uses a license which is listed as "bad", what
should I do?
A. Either remove the bits which are under the "bad" license, or remove
the package from Fedora. If you're not sure what to do, you can email
tcallawa at, and I'll help.

Q. My package is under the GPL/LGPL, do I really need to change it to
note the version?
A. Yes. This is very important, and will greatly assist us in tracking
GPL license interoperability and interlinking conflicts.

Q. How should I know if my package is using an "or later version"
license clause?
A. Some licenses (GPL, LGPL especially) can include an "or any later
version" clause. This clause isn't invoked in the license text (at
least, not for the GPL/LGPL), but rather, in the source code or
corresponding documentation. Look in the source code and see if there is
any reference to "any later version".

The GPL sample text looks like this:

    This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
    (at your option) any later version.

The GPL/LGPL "or any later version" clause is _only_ activated when
upstream puts it in the source code or attached documentation, so if you
can't find it outside of COPYING, it doesn't apply.

If you do find it, you make sure the License identifier ends with a +.

Q. Why can't I use "Distributable"/"BSD-ish"?
A. Its far too vague. We need the specific information to help us
perform faster license audits and legal compatibility checks.

Q. Do I need to rebuild the package when I make the license tag change?
A. In the development branch, yes, please. We're not requiring that you
rebuild older branches, but please at least commit the fixed license tag
to CVS for all branches, so that it gets picked up on the next update.

Q. I want to help you handle Fedora Licensing, spot!
A. Are you sure? Its a rather thankless job, you have to tell people
that things can't go in Fedora. But if you're interested in helping out,
drop me an email.

Q. I have a question that you've not covered here, what should I do?
A. Ask it. I'll try to answer it. :)


Fedora-devel-announce mailing list
Fedora-devel-announce at

More information about the fedora-devel-list mailing list