On Fri, Jul 24, 2020 at 3:16 AM Jason Tibbitts <tibbs(a)math.uh.edu> wrote:
One of the various reasons for having package reviews is having a human
verify that the packager's choice of License: tag is valid. The
Packaging Committee is was faced with a request
) that has us
questioning just how much license review is required.
Are any of the following acceptable?
1) Trust the packager to do a license review, with no reviewer
It seems like two different things may be getting conflated here:
1. Review of a package to determine whether it satisfies Fedora
2. Choice of what to put for the License: tag -- assuming 1 has been done.
I don't have a view on whether the existing approach of having a human
reviewer is absolutely needed. However, a general point I'd make is
that Red Hat has been assuming a certain level of very high quality in
community legal review of new Fedora packages -- this assumption is
baked into certain internal processes we have at Red Hat for RHEL --
and the additional human review probably contributes to this. If we
relax some elements of Fedora legal review perhaps we'll need to
introduce others to compensate for this, whether on the Fedora side or
the RHEL side, or both.
On the other hand, that observation doesn't really apply to the
License: tags themselves. I would say we (or I, anyway) don't really
find the Fedora License: tags that helpful to begin with because they
are generally not super-accurate (by my own standards, at least) and
there seems to be substantial inconsistency in how they are selected
across different packages and reviewers/maintainers.
2) Trust the output of an automated tool which attempts to detect
project licenses (such as askalono).
In general, license scanning tools are pretty bad, probably
unavoidably so, since there are limits to how much you can automate
license detection. The best or least bad one, and the only one I would
personally vouch for, is ScanCode (mentioned by David Cantrell in his
response). I would encourage Fedora to consider some sort of formal
expectation for the use of ScanCode to aid in one or both of the
distinct tasks noted above (review for conformance to Fedora licensing
policy, decision for choice of License: tag). But even with a high
quality tool like ScanCode you can't "trust" its output for purposes
of task 1 (whereas its output might be okay enough to be used in a
fairly mechanical way for task 2).
3) Trust the license tag from a project hosting service such as
(I understand that the answer may depend on the hosting service.)
This is just another license scanning tool. There's no particular
reason to "trust" it any more than use of non-hosted tools. My
impression in the past was that the GitHub license identification was
based on the licensee tool which seemed to be pretty primitive and
naive in its assumptions. Maybe that's good enough for task 2, but not
for task 1, IMO.
Incidentally I also would encourage Fedora to look into the potential
for collaboration with the ClearlyDefined project
) which is currently not oriented towards
Linux distributions or RPM-based packages at all. I could imagine a
future where ClearlyDefined could be helpful in both tasks 1 and 2