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Re: Packages licenses

On Fri, 7 Nov 2003, Owen Taylor wrote:

>> > You're right that there are many duplicates that could use fixing. Once it
>> > is decided which license strings need to change, you can file patches in
>> > bugzilla for all the ones that obviously need changing (e.g. s/Freely
>> > distributable/Freely redistributable/i).
>> the worse is that there are packages with *wrong* 'License' tag: ex. db4
>> querida:~ $ rpm -q --qf '%{name}\t%{license}\n' db4
>> db4     GPL
>> /usr/share/doc/db4-4.0.14/LICENSE shows that it's BSD-alike
>> _All package maintainers_ *should check* 'License' tag!!
>Read that carefully. It's very much not BSD-like. It's not the GPL
>either, however, though it could roughly be described as GPL-like
>in general intent.

Personally I wouldn't call a license GPL-like in an official 
sense.  It opens the door for people to be mislead that a license 
is GPL compatible when it might not be.  If a license does not 
have a specific name given to it, then I make one up based on the 
package name.  So for this case, if the LICENSE file doesn't say 
"foo LICENSE", I would say this package's license is:

License: db4 license

That tells people clearly this is a special license that is
different from other licenses, and they need to read the license
for themselves in order to know what the terms are.  It makes it
less likely people will make false legal assumptions and misuse
the code against the author's wishes.  Of course, the rpm license
header is just a summary line, and isn't authoritative, so people
should always check the author's own written license text,
however I think the rpm license tag should convey the license
type as close as possible in as few words as possible, or else 
give vague term like "db4 license" which inspires the reader to 
find the license inside the package and read it to determine what 
"db4 license" really means.


Mike A. Harris     ftp://people.redhat.com/mharris
OS Systems Engineer - XFree86 maintainer - Red Hat

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