On Mon, May 06, 2013 at 11:27:56AM -0400, Joshua Gay wrote:
Debian is starting to add machine readable copyright and licensing info
to their packages. Recently we began importing Debian packages with
licensing info into the Free Software Directory, so I have had a chance
to look over *a lot* of these packages. So far I have been pretty
impressed at the care a lot of package maintainers are taking in their
attempts to list copyright and licensing info within source packages.
Sure, that is a good thing.
But, this is also a big step toward having more detailed info
and provided that brings the licensing info together with the dependency
info. Which will also make it a lot easier for large distros with lots
of different packages of varying stages of maturity to be able to more
easily keep track of licensing compatibilities and everything else.
I guess my point is that if it's taken this much time to get closer to
that point, and Debian is only in the earliest stages of what is
necessary to get to that point, something is wrong. The fact that no
one thinks there is any big problem is also quite significant.
Here's what I've been trying to say, or what I've been thinking about
at least: There are obviously multiple ways of interpreting the GPL
generally and as applied to some particular fact pattern. But I
discern at least two principal macro-interpretations of the GPL. One
consists of the collective and evolving (explicit where recorded at
all) doctrine of the FSF, as further interpreted or, seemingly,
misinterpreted by others. The other is a mostly implicit body of
doctrine deducible from behavior, that consists of what developers and
distributors actually *do*, and what upstream licensors seem to
There is some problem in the existence of a gap between these two
things; they are in tension because the latter seems to suggest a more
permissive interpretive theory than the former.
By the way, this is not necessarily restricted to the GPL (or even to
FLOSS licensing), but I think it's particularly interesting in the GPL