[Fedora-packaging] License reference for additional, non-essential example files of a package

Tom "spot" Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Mon Jul 6 20:52:21 UTC 2009

On 07/06/2009 04:18 PM, Federico Hernandez wrote:
> Hi!
> The upstream project has some additional, non essential files (in this
> case vim syntax files which the upstream project "make install"s under
> the docdir). How should these reference to a license information? Do
> they have to include a license information? I ask as Bram Moolenaar has
> asked the upstream project to not have any license reference in the
> syntax files (the upstream project has submitted them to be included in
> the vim distribution). Would a reference to the license in a
> corresponding README file be enough?

As a rule, any file which contains copyrightable material should contain
license attribution in the header of that file. The full text of the
license in the header is the optimal scenario, however, a description of
the license along with a pointer to the license text (either to a
separate file or a URL) is generally acceptable. Please avoid doing
things like:

# License text can be found in COPYING

As files tend to move and be copied in and out of different software
distributions, the COPYING file that was originally referred to is left
behind, or completely different from the original. Instead, if the
license text is too long to reasonably include in the header, use
something like:

# This file is available under the GNU Public License version 2 or later.
# For the full text of this license, see COPYING.

As to Bram's request that syntax files not have any license reference, I
think that this is extremely poor practice on his part. However, at a
minimum, a reference to the license in a corresponding README file,
listing the explicit filenames which are under the license terms, is
better than nothing.


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