fortune-mod copyright status

Stephen J. Smoogen smooge at
Fri Mar 18 00:30:43 UTC 2005

On Fri, 18 Mar 2005 00:23:35 +0000, James Wilkinson
<james at> wrote:
> Matthew Miller wrote:
> > We have a bsd-games package, and it also includes fortune. We currently zap
> > the fortune program from it so that it won't conflict with fortune-mod, but
> > that seems kind of silly. Is there some huge advantage of the fortune-mod
> > fortune program over the bsd-games one?
> >
> > I'd kind of like to get bsd-games into Extras. In addition to 'adventure',
> > 'wumpus', and 'robots', it contains a few actually-useful tiny utilities,
> > like 'banner' and 'number', and of course vital-to-debugging 'pom'.
> >
> > Unless there's a big advantage to the forked fortune program, any reason to
> > not just go to the bsd-games version?
> This may not be the right place to ask this (where is?) but should
> fortune be in Fedora anywhere, at least as it currently appears?
> It was removed from RHL9 due to "unclear copyright status" (according to
> the release notes). I haven't been able to find any evidence that there
> has been a legal review of the package since.
> I assumed that the "unclear copyright status" refers, at least in part,
> to a number of the fortunes in songs-poems. Some of these appear to be
> the entire words to songs or poems by twentieth-century writers.

There are a lot of extended quotes in the fortune program and that was
the problem in using it previously. There was also a problem with
Rated R comments put in with Rated G ones without them being properly
encrypted etc.

There was an attempt by Tim Powers and some others to clean it all
up.. but it took a heck of a lot of time for the package.

> I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect that those fortunes are not covered by
> "fair use" or "fair dealing" in many jurisdictions. I can't find any
> evidence that any copyright owners have given permission for the
> package, and some of them may not be inclined to overlook copyright
> violations.
> Has Red Hat Legal reviewed the contents of the package?

I think that was what got it dropped a long time ago.

> James.
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Stephen J Smoogen.
CSIRT/Linux System Administrator

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