shipping patches from Debian in Fedora package: licensing

Florian Weimer fweimer at
Mon Nov 24 13:40:52 UTC 2014

On 11/24/2014 02:34 PM, Felix Schwarz wrote:
> A while ago I noticed that a Debian package has some useful patches for some
> package and some of these patches are required to update the Fedora package. I
> was wondering if there is a summary about licensing of Debian patches and if
> it is acceptable just to copy Debian's patches into Fedora (with proper credit
> of course) [1].

The copyright status should be documented in the patches, or in 
debian/copyright.  If it is unclear, you can file a bug in the Debian 
BTS.  Just send email with a descriptive subject to 
<submit at>, and start the message with

Package: src:PACKAGE-NAME

(where PACKAGE-NAME is the source package in question), followed by a 
blank line, and list the patches whose licensing you consider unclear.

I think most developers would assume that the patches are licensed under 
the same conditions as the upstream code, though.

> [1] I think the patches itself are fine to ship also considering the Fedora
> upstream-first policy:
> - patches have been submitted in the official issue tracker
> - upstream project is pretty inactive but not dead
> - patches are fairly small, mostly build-system changes for distributions and
>    fixing the test suite

You can also pretend that Debian is upstream. :-)

Florian Weimer / Red Hat Product Security

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