Contribution to Extras (an update)

Ralf Corsepius rc040203 at
Tue Apr 18 01:30:12 UTC 2006

On Mon, 2006-04-17 at 14:36 -0500, Jason L Tibbitts III wrote:
> >>>>> "RC" == Ralf Corsepius <rc040203 at> writes:
> RC> The point is: This requirement is legal non-sense and probably
> RC> void.
> Why on earth would this have anything to do with legality?

1. A packager adding a license file, can be read as "granting a

To be able to so, he'd either have to be the copyright owner or having
been granted a license to so. The former will rarely apply. In the
latter case, he must have obtained this license from some other place
(the license's master) inside of the package, i.e. from other sources of
information already present inside of the package.

=> This "detaching a license" is redundant.

2. Using "detached license" files is questionable in general.
There are voices from people with strong US-legal background (e.g. FSF
legal), who say: "Only inlined licenses are safe".
It's the reason why all FSF-owned files care a short copyright/license
notice at their beginning.

=> "A detached license file" is not unlikely legally irrelevant.

I.e. the basic question would be: What is the legal relevance of a
packager adding a "LICENSE" file and what does it cover?

A purely informative file ("README.licenses"), trying to summarize all
the licenses contained in a package ("This package contains files
covered by the following licenses: ...") is a different matter.

But I fail to see the need why such a file should be made mandatory.

>   The
> requirement is there for clarity; games often have custom licenses
> that aren't easily summarized in the 20 characters that the RPM
> License: tag gives us.
I'd simply use "License: Distributable".

It's what many other packages in similar situations do.

>   People need to be able to see the license for
> the game files summarized as documentation instead of plowing through
> the source code.
I don't see why people would want to need this.

If a package is part of FE, it is supposed to be OSI compliant.
Packagers and package review are supposed to take care of this.

If developers want to use files from a package, they will have to look
into each files' license, anyway. Here, I don't see that a game's
licensing is any different from any other arbitrary package. Any
non-trivial package with a sensible history/record is in a similar

> The only context in which the requirement would be void would be that
> of Fedora Extras, and then only if the steering committee declared
> that the Games SIG can't place that additional restriction.  Which
> they haven't.  So just what are you objecting to?

I am objecting to force packagers to write and add license files,
1. these files put packagers at avoidable, unnecessary, additional legal
2. these files are of very doubtful benefits.
3. implementing them means additional work.


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