[Fedora-packaging] Re: License tag in packages

Tim Jackson lists at timj.co.uk
Thu Jun 29 22:37:36 UTC 2006

Christopher Stone wrote:

[current usage of License]

> It is not inconsistant:
> 734 GPL
> 1 GPL version 2 or newer

       1 GPL version 2 or later.
       1 GPL version 2 or later
       1 GPLv2

OK, there's certainly a majority.

> The one package that uses "GPL version 2 or newer" should be fixed to
> just say "GPL" to conform with all 734 other packages.
> This was pretty well established in the thread.

There were also some convincing arguments the other way, that I don't 
think were repudiated.

>> Then perhaps the License field should always be omitted, or populated
>> with "See documentation".
> Yes, or how about "Fedora friendly" with a link showing valid Fedora
> licenses.  But I don't think it's is going too far to provide a
> minimal amount of information such as GPL or BSD.

OK, so what we're talking about really is treating "License" like 
"License group" or something. Fair enough.

>> b) the very shaky legal basis of arbitrarily renaming licenses (someone
>> in the thread you linked to pointed out that it may not be binding, but
>> a packager misleading users could arguably have some liability)
> If it is legally binding, then we are legally bound to include the
> entire text of the License in the header tag.  

There is a difference between "legally binding" and "misleading in a 
legal sense". Hypothetically, I may not have a duty to tell you the 
license of a file at all, but if I assertively tell you it is "XXX" and 
you go ahead and distribute it under "XXX v2" when actually its license 
is "XXX v3" which has different terms that you breach, then at the least 
I have misled you and caused you to do bad stuff that you might not 
otherwise have done (notwithstanding the fact that you should have 
checked the details), regardless of whether or not this in any way makes 
me liable to you. (It probably doesn't, but I don't want to encourage 
people to do stuff with free software which goes against the author's 
wishes and, for example, GPLv3 is shaping up to have notable differences 
to GPLv2 in at least some ways)

>> c) the fact that what you're saying is inconsistent with what at least
>> some Core packagers are doing
> I agree, let's make a standard and stick to it. 

That's all I'm getting at really :)

> But please try to see the logic in the arguments I have presented.  
 > It is simply a tag and should not be taken for anything more than that.

I do, honest I do. And I for one treat it exactly like that when I'm 
deciding how to use a bit of software: I wouldn't dream of relying on 
the License: tag; I would always go and check the actual source 
docs/source code etc. But I also don't want to mislead people who might, 
without any ill intent, not be so diligent.

All I'm looking for I suppose is a reasonable, reasoned and "approved" 
(in some meaningful sense) wiki page (not archived list thread) that is 
linked from PackagingGuidelines and which I (and everyone else) can look 
at each time I do a package and know what to put in the License field. 
Whether or not it corresponds to my personal preferences is not really 
important; I'll follow it if it's generally agreed (and preferably given 
the nod by FESco).

The fact that this issue has come up several times means that a 
*conclusive* resolution is definitely needed.


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