Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (539 mails)

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[opensuse-project] On package licensing
Only recently, our legal team started to cleanup the package License header,
especially when multiple licenses are present in the source tarball. As
they're rather shy in communicating this, this post is intended to clarify
what's going on and to start a public discussion on it.

Usually, the main case are dual-licensed (or multi-licensed) packages. For
instance, most Perl packages now contain a license tag like "GPL+ or
Artistic", which is rather clear. Things become more complicated when parts of
the (upstream) source code contain several (different) license headers. While
this situation is rather messy and best be avoided, we do have such software
and thus we have to threat that somehow. Unfortunately, this can lead to
rather difficult to interpret license tags like the following (for perl-Tk):

(GPL+ or Artistic) and zlib

Or even worse (recent digikam):

GPLv2+ and LGPLv2.1+ and GFDL and X11 (BSD like) and BSD3c (or similar)

While the intent is honorable, I doubt that this is still useful for the
general public. Also, it lacks specific information which source file (or sub-
tree) is licensed under which of the above.

The spec file license tag clearly isn't meant for that. I'm no lawyer, but to
me it seems like the only proper way is like Debian does it. They add an extra
file to their packages which lists all the licenses that apply. Also it
allows to clearly state that in-tree libraries are licensed differently. Based
on that, the spec file License header could then contain only the most
prominent license. However, this increases packagers work but seems more
useful to me. What do you think?
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Sascha Peilicke
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