Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev

From: Rich Freeman <rich0@g.o>
To: gentoo-dev <gentoo-dev@l.g.o>
Subject: Re: [gentoo-dev] Should we allow "GPL, v2 or later" for ebuilds?
Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2020 15:32:15
In Reply to: [gentoo-dev] Should we allow "GPL, v2 or later" for ebuilds? by Ulrich Mueller
1 On Mon, Jan 27, 2020 at 6:41 AM Ulrich Mueller <ulm@g.o> wrote:
2 >
3 > Historically, all ebuilds in the Gentoo repository were licensed under
4 > GPL-2+. At a later point they were relicensed [1] to GPL-2. See [2] for
5 > a rationale (or absence of it, YMMV).
7 I think the historical policy made sense in its context, which was a
8 world where all copyrights were to be assigned. In that case you can
9 already relicense at will, so you still have flexibility, but by
10 keeping it pinned at one version you don't get pulled into something
11 by somebody else that you didn't intend.
13 Now, over time the whole assignment thing became fuzzier and I don't
14 really want to get into a largely-moot debate at this point over how
15 effective those assignments were at various points in time.
17 Today we are in a world where our intent isn't for the default to
18 involve assignment, and so the v2-only licenses create (IMO) more
19 problems than they prevent.
21 > On the other hand, we would presumably never achieve a complete
22 > transition to GPL-2+, so we would have ebuilds with either GPL variant
23 > in the tree. Not sure how big an issue that would be. Updating ebuilds
24 > wouldn't be a problem (as the old header would stay), but devs would
25 > have to spend attention to the header when copying code from one ebuild
26 > to another.
28 Devs already have to be careful about copying code into ebuilds that
29 go into our repo. Somebody could attach an ebuild to a bug and stick
30 "Copyright Joe Smith all rights reserved" at the top of it.
32 I think it would make sense to have a call for Devs to voluntarily
33 report in and give permission for their contributions to be licensed
34 v2+ with no change in copyright ownership and see what happens. I
35 wouldn't be surprised if we could relicense 80-90% of the tree
36 quickly. If that happens then we could just require it for new
37 contributions (if we wanted to), and then over time the problem would
38 just go away, just like an old EAPI.
40 We could also stick warnings in ebuild comments like "# Warning
41 v2-only ebuild - do not copy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and maybe copy it
42 every 20 lines if we wanted to be super-paranoid.
44 I do agree with the general argument that much of this code isn't
45 really subject to copyright. We could just do both an opt-in and
46 opt-out approach to this. Have the opt-in so that we get as much
47 explicit approval as we can. Also do an opt-out with a prominent
48 announcement like, "hey, we're about to adopt GPL v2+ for all our
49 ebuilds so if you think you have contributions that are non-trivial
50 and want to object to those contributions being relicensed please let
51 us know." It isn't an airtight defense, but it isn't entirely
52 unreasonable either.
54 Or we could just see how many fish we catch with a very conservative
55 opt-in approach and go from there. We might not need to even consider
56 the risk of an opt-out approach.
58 --
59 Rich