[openstack-dev] [all] Proposal: copyright-holders file in each project, or copyright holding forced to the OpenStack Foundation

James Bottomley James.Bottomley at HansenPartnership.com
Mon Jan 18 06:53:35 UTC 2016

On Fri, 2016-01-15 at 20:48 +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
> This isn't the first time I'm calling for it. Let's hope this time, 
> I'll be heard.
> Randomly, contributors put their company names into source code. When
> they do, then effectively, this tells that a given source file 
> copyright holder is whatever is claimed, even though someone from 
> another company may have patched it.
> As a result, we have a huge mess. It's impossible for me, as a 
> package maintainer, to accurately set the copyright holder names in 
> the debian/copyright file, which is a required by the Debian FTP
> masters.

The debian copyright policy merely requires the debian/copyright file
to aggregate the stated copyright of the project ... it doesn't require
the project to keep complete and accurate records or Debian to
manufacture them:


Traditionally the git repository is the complete record of who changed
the file.  However, legally, not every change might be considered
copyrightable so most open source projects leave it up to authors
whether they want to add a copyright annotation or not.

Just simply aggregating what's stated in the files is enough to satisfy
the debian policy.

> I see 2 ways forward:
> 1/ Require every one to give-up copyright holding, and give it to the
> OpenStack Foundation.

Good grief, I thought we'd got beyond the days of copyright assignment
... it might simplify your administration, but it would greatly
increase the burden of someone to maintain the files of the necessary

> 2/ Maintain a copyright-holder file in each project.

How is that different from letting people decide if they want to add
their copyrights to the header of the file ... in other words, how will
it make the situation different from today?

> The later is needed if we want to do things correctly. Leaving the
> possibility for everyone to just write (c) MyCompany LLC randomly in 
> the source code doesn't cut it. Expecting that a package maintainer
> should double-guess copyright holding just by reading the email 
> addresses of "git log" output doesn't work either.
> Please remember that a copyright holder has nothing to do with the
> license, neither with the author of some code. So please do *not*
> take
> over this thread, and discuss authorship or licensing.
> Whatever we choose, I think we should ban having copyright holding
> text
> within our source code. While licensing is a good idea, as it is
> accurate, the copyright holding information isn't and it's just
> missleading.
> If I was the only person to choose, I'd say let's go for 1/, but
> probably managers of every company wont agree.
> Some thoughts anyone?

I don't think there's anything broken here, so I'd vote for not trying
to fix it ...


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