[Fedora-legal-list] Redistributing license text with binary RPMs

Mikolaj Izdebski mizdebsk at redhat.com
Fri May 11 07:33:54 UTC 2012


Many Fedora-approved software licences require binary distributions to include the license text along with the software. For example the family of BSD licenses says that "redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution" and ASL 2.0 says that "You must give any other recipients of the Work or Derivative Works a copy of this License". My understanding is that in case of Fedora redistributing a copy of the license along with RPM package is a prerequisite for redistributing it al all.

In some cases the upstream itself doesn't redistribute the copy of the license. From technical point of view it's fine because they are copyright holders and therefore they can do whatever they want with the software they have rights to. In some other cases the upstream is providing source code only and source distribution doesn't require including the text of the license.

Fedora Licensing Guidelines says: "if (and only if) the source package includes the text of the license(s) in its own file, then that file, containing the text of the license(s) for the package must be included in %doc". This can cause problems in some cases.

My questions are:

1. According to Fedora Licensing Guidelines, is it prohibited to include the text of the license within the binary RPM package if the source package does not include the text of the license?

2. Isn't redistributing binary RPMs without the license text included (in case the license requires that) considered as violation of the license?

3. What is the proper way of handling the case when upstream is rejecting requests to include the license text in their distribution, while they are requiring Fedora to include it?

(An example of an affected package is annox, which is currently in its review process: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=808768)

Thank you,
Mikolaj Izdebski
Red Hat

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