[Fedora-packaging] Licensing guidelines suggestions

Ville Skyttä ville.skytta at iki.fi
Mon Aug 6 20:05:50 UTC 2007


Here's a few notes/questions that IMO need to be addressed in the new 
licensing guidelines in Wiki.  IANAL, etc, but anyway, something for near 
future FPC meetings (which I still probably won't be able to attend to for a 
couple of weeks):

1) The licensing pages strongly imply that OSI-approved licenses are ok.  
However for example the original Artistic license is OSI-approved but listed 
in Wiki page as "bad".  Something needs real fixing - "ask upstream to move 
to a "good" Artistic license" is IMO just a band aid.

2) The Wiki pages refer to "files" and "content" without specifying whether 
those refer to files/content in the source rpm, the resulting binary rpms, or 

Example case: an upstream source tarball contains source files under let's say 
BSD, LGPLv2.1+ and GPLv2+ licenses.  That would mean that let's say a binary 
built from all those would fall under GPLv2+.  Specifying GPLv2+ as the 
License tag would be misrepresenting the copyrights of the files in the 
source rpm that carry BSD and LGPLv2.1+ notices.  Specifying "BSD and 
LGPLv2.1+ and GPLv2+" would be misrepresenting the copyright of the combined 
work in the resulting binary.

3) Source licenses are not the only thing that affect the distributables' 
copyrights.  For example when something is built from let's say LGPLv2+ 
sources but linked with a GPLv2+ library, the resulting binary will be 
GPLv2+, while the sources are still LGPLv2+ (unless their embedded copyright 
notices are changed to GPLv2+, but that can't be done for many *GPL 

Suggested combined fix for 2) and 3) above: change the licensing guidelines to 
prominently note something like that the value of the License tag represents 
the copyright/license info of binary packages only, and only when built in 
the configuration specified by the Fedora build system, build 
dependencies/conflicts in the specfile, and no non-Fedora software installed 
that will affect the build in any way.  Source rpms' copyrights are 
determined by the sources and other content included in them.

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