[Logwatch-Devel] copyright holders

Willi Mann willi at wm1.at
Sat Feb 23 12:36:13 MST 2008

Bjorn L. schrieb:

> - If the file has a license defined in it, then that license applies. 
> If not, then the text in the "License" file applies.

It would be better to indicate that in the corresponding source file.
This better ensures that any submitter agrees to the terms of the license.

> - The general license listed in the "License" file is commonly referred 
> to as the "X11 License," the "Permissive MIT License," or simply "MIT 
> License."


> - The only other license type used in any of the Logwatch files is 
> commonly referred to as the "BSD License".
> - Both of the above license types are considered "open-source," are used 
> by many other "open-source" programs, and have been endorsed by 
> "open-source" organizations.

Yes, no doubt about that.

> - At some point in the past, we did have some files under other 
> licenses.  Those authors were contacted, and requested to change their 
> licenses to the terms listed in the "License" file.  All authors consented.
> - If code was submitted for inclusion into Logwatch with a copyright 
> notice, then the copyright notice was retained, and is embedded in the 
> file submitted.

> It is not clear to me why a copyright notice needs to be included, if 
> the original author of the code did not indicate one should be included. 

Copyright does not depend on whether you add a copyright notice.

>   As a matter of fact, if you want to renounce a copyright, you should 
> not assert one to begin with.  In addition, I don't see any advantage to 
> asserting the copyright to a work that is held under either of the two 
> types of licenses that are used in Logwatch, as both licenses explicitly 
> remove any restrictions for using the software.  Incidentally, the 

Actually, it's the other way round. First, you need to assert copyright,
then you can put the work under some license. This requires a proper
copyright notice.

So the problem is that most logwatch scripts don't contain a copyright
notice at all, but are non-trivial enough that copyright forcefully
applies. As no copyright notice is included, they can't be licensed
under any license.

The fact that the file "License" only contains the X11 license and only
Kirk Bauer as copyright holder is also dangerous, as it is misleading.

> "written by" construct you mentioned was not intended to grant any 
> rights, but merely to acknowledge, give credit, and thank the 
> contributor. [And that's not the function of a copyright - if you write 
> proprietary code (not "open source") for an employer, the employer 
> usually owns the copyright, not the author.]

Yes, thats correct.

> Also, if any contributor of code feels that the current license is not 
> appropriate for the code submitted, please indicate so.  And we 
> certainly want to hear if any of the code submitted was derived from 
> non-"open-source" and non-"public domain" code, and Logwatch cannot 
> grant the permissions listed in the "License" file for that code.

Yes, except that the term "public domain" is dangerous, because this
term is not known under some jurisdictions (or means something
different) In case some contributions were made under the claim that it
is put under public domain, I'd ask the author to relicense and add a
copyright notice. (Exceptions would be works that are forced into
"public domain" by applicable laws, but then a rationale should be added)

> P.S. I am not a lawyer.

IANAL too, but I've verified the core issue before with the debian-legal
team (also non-lawyers, but they regulary look at legal issues relevant
to Debian.)


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