On Mon, Jan 27, 2020 at 6:41 AM Ulrich Mueller <u...@gentoo.org> wrote:
> Historically, all ebuilds in the Gentoo repository were licensed under
> GPL-2+. At a later point they were relicensed [1] to GPL-2. See [2] for
> a rationale (or absence of it, YMMV).

I think the historical policy made sense in its context, which was a
world where all copyrights were to be assigned.  In that case you can
already relicense at will, so you still have flexibility, but by
keeping it pinned at one version you don't get pulled into something
by somebody else that you didn't intend.

Now, over time the whole assignment thing became fuzzier and I don't
really want to get into a largely-moot debate at this point over how
effective those assignments were at various points in time.

Today we are in a world where our intent isn't for the default to
involve assignment, and so the v2-only licenses create (IMO) more
problems than they prevent.

> On the other hand, we would presumably never achieve a complete
> transition to GPL-2+, so we would have ebuilds with either GPL variant
> in the tree. Not sure how big an issue that would be. Updating ebuilds
> wouldn't be a problem (as the old header would stay), but devs would
> have to spend attention to the header when copying code from one ebuild
> to another.

Devs already have to be careful about copying code into ebuilds that
go into our repo.  Somebody could attach an ebuild to a bug and stick
"Copyright Joe Smith all rights reserved" at the top of it.

I think it would make sense to have a call for Devs to voluntarily
report in and give permission for their contributions to be licensed
v2+ with no change in copyright ownership and see what happens.  I
wouldn't be surprised if we could relicense 80-90% of the tree
quickly.  If that happens then we could just require it for new
contributions (if we wanted to), and then over time the problem would
just go away, just like an old EAPI.

We could also stick warnings in ebuild comments like "# Warning
v2-only ebuild - do not copy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and maybe copy it
every 20 lines if we wanted to be super-paranoid.

I do agree with the general argument that much of this code isn't
really subject to copyright.  We could just do both an opt-in and
opt-out approach to this.  Have the opt-in so that we get as much
explicit approval as we can.  Also do an opt-out with a prominent
announcement like, "hey, we're about to adopt GPL v2+ for all our
ebuilds so if you think you have contributions that are non-trivial
and want to object to those contributions being relicensed please let
us know."  It isn't an airtight defense, but it isn't entirely
unreasonable either.

Or we could just see how many fish we catch with a very conservative
opt-in approach and go from there.  We might not need to even consider
the risk of an opt-out approach.


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