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

Tom Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Fri May 11 14:23:08 UTC 2012

On 05/11/2012 03:33 AM, Mikolaj Izdebski wrote:
> 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?

Not prohibited, just not required. There is a minimal possibility that a
maintainer may add a license text that is not accurate (or no longer
accurate, in the case of an upstream license change, for example) to a
package and thus incur some liability, so we do not require that they
add missing license texts. Instead, we advise maintainers to ask the
upstream to include proper license text.

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

In the example you've provided (BSD), 99% of the time the answer is no.
It says: "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"

Other materials provided with the distribution are the SRPMs, which
usually include the source, which usually includes the license. If we
were distributing binary-only, it would be a potential issue.

However, in the case you've pointed out (annox), they're not
distributing the license in the source tree at all, just a pointer to
the license on their website.

In the case of annox, I would recommend that the maintainer ask the
upstream to clarify if they consider distribution of their software in
binary and source form without any copy of the license text as a
violation of their license. If the answer is "no", then we're okay, as
that effectively acts as a waiver of that condition (and we should
include a copy of that email in the package to document this waiver). If
the answer is "yes", then, we should politely ask them again to add the
license text to the source tree. If they won't do that, I would say the
remaining options would be:

* The maintainer can make a copy of the license text from the website
and include it with the Fedora package, if they choose to do so.


* We do not permit this package into Fedora.

It is extremely rare that upstream chooses a license that requires
license text inclusion and does not provide license text in the source


Fedora Project

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