[cairo] COPYING files....

Carl Worth cworth at east.isi.edu
Fri Feb 6 07:32:42 PST 2004

On Feb 6, Jim Gettys wrote:
 > We need to put into place COPYING files for all the new modularized
 > packages ASAP; some currently lack this.

The cairo COPYING files seem to be in place at least.

 > Mallum noticed that the automake, if presented with
 > --add-missing and no COPYING file, will put in a default
 > GPL licence, which is not our intent.

Yes. This behavior of automake is rather over the top[*].

One can prevent it by adding the --foreign option, (where "foreign" is
intended to mean "not GNU"):

	Automake will check for only those things which are
	absolutely required for proper operations.  For
	instance, whereas GNU standards dictate the
	existence of a `NEWS' file, it will not be required
	in this mode.  The name comes from the fact that
	Automake is intended to be used for GNU programs;
	these relaxed rules are not the standard mode of



[*] And demonstrably a bug. The documentation of --add-missing doesn't
say anything about potentially adding a COPYING file containing the
GPL to your code:

	Automake requires certain common files to exist in
	certain situations; ... this option will cause the
	missing ones to be automatically added to the
	package, whenever possible. In general if Automake
	tells you a file is missing, try using this option.

You can read between the lines and see that the default "strictness"
is --gnu, not --foreign, and that --gnu does require a COPYING
file. And there is the one phrase:

	We still encourage software authors to distribute
	their work under terms like those of the GPL, but
	doing so is not required to use Automake.

But the behavior still feels rather sneaky to me.

I would prefer that automake not add license files without an explicit
request from the user, (eg. --add-GPL).


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