Bug#698019: libav: the effective GPL-licensed status of the binary packages should be clearly documented

Reinhard Tartler siretart at gmail.com
Sun Jan 13 08:50:58 UTC 2013

tags 698019 help

Copying debian-legal and netgen mostly for notifying them about this
issue. Also, see the call for help below.

On Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 11:43 PM, Francesco Poli (wintermute)
<invernomuto at paranoici.org> wrote:
> Source: libav
> Version: 6:9.1-1
> Severity: important
> Hello again,
> while trying to improve [1] a comment at the beginning of the
> debian/copyright file, it became apparent [2] that all the binary
> packages built from libav are effectively under GPL-2+ or even
> under GPL-3+ (as for libavcodec-extra-*, but also for the ones
> that link with it).
> [1] http://bugs.debian.org/694657#85
> [2] http://bugs.debian.org/694657#100
> As explained in my reply [3], I think that this situation is
> not clear at all, for people who just read the debian/copyright file
> and/or look at the binary package long descriptions!
> [3] http://bugs.debian.org/694657#105
> Without intimate knowledge of the libav package build process, one may
> wrongly think that those GPL-licensed files only end up into the binary
> packages named after the directories where they live...
> Without digging into all the dependencies, one may fail to notice all the
> cross linking among the binary packages built from libav...

The situation has been explicitly documented in README.Debian for
literally ages:

I agree that this might be easily overlooked, ad a better place to
make it more obvious, such as in debian/copyright, would be great.

> I think that the effective licensing status of the binary packages
> (GPL-2+ or GPL-3+) should be explicitly and clearly documented in the
> comment at the beginning of the debian/copyright file and, probably, in
> the binary package long descriptions, as well.

I am not happy at all with cluttering the binary package description
with license blabla. I would do so only as last resort

> I really hope you are going to clarify this situation.

We have recently (well, most if not all kudos and blame go to Jonas
for using his CDBS based generator) revised debian/copyright to
conform to DEP5. I'm not sure at all how to express this particular
situation in the new syntax and am therefore requesting help in form
of patches against the debian/copyright file as found in



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