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localedata (non-)copyright policy from FSF
- From: Roland McGrath <roland at hack dot frob dot com>
- To: "GNU C. Library" <libc-alpha at sourceware dot org>, libc-locales at sourceware dot org
- Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2013 13:57:01 -0800 (PST)
- Subject: localedata (non-)copyright policy from FSF
I got this from <firstname.lastname@example.org> under
Subject: [gnu.org #804286] GLIBC Locales Files
I've refilled the paragraphs to be readable.
My response is below the next divider line.
Several free software projects have written to us recently about licensing
issues regarding locales files in GLIBC. Currently, many of these files
contain brief, contradictory, confusing and occasionally non-free licensing
While the Free Software Foundation requires assignment on copyrightable
contributions to GLIBC, we have never sought or received assignment from
contributors on GLIBC locales files. This is because we had previously
determined that such files were not subject to copyright protection.
Our counsel at the Software Freedom Law Center has also reviewed the
situation, and determined that these files are not the sort of work that
falls under copyright protection.
Given the problems involved in leaving these licensing statements in the
files, as well as our longtime understanding that such files are not
copyrightable, we want to undertake a project to remove these licensing
statements from all GLIBC locales files. Given the time and effort put into
creating these files, we wanted to give locales file creators a chance to
give feedback before implementing this change. Debian has already
undertaken a project to contact these creators to get them to update the
licensing, and has had some success
bug explains a bit more background on the situation
<http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=555168> as well. Any help
you could provide in tracking down current contact info for the
contributors on those files would be greatly appreciated.
Once we have the contact info, we are going to set about contacting the
contributors to let them know that we want to update the licensing of these
files to the following:
"This file is a part of GLIBC and contains locale data.The Free
Software Foundation does not claim any copyright interest in the locale
data contained in this file. The foregoing does not affect the license of
GLIBC as a whole. It does not exempt you from the conditions of the license
if your use would otherwise be governed by that license."
While we work on that process, if any new locales files are created, please
make sure to use this updated permission. Thank you so much for all the
work you do, and please let me know if you have any questions, or if you
have information that would be helpful in this process.
Donald R. Robertson, III, J.D.
Copyright & Licensing Associate
Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor
Boston, MA 02110, USA
In the current source tree, only four of the 300ish localedata files
contain any formal copyright notice (i.e. contain the word
"copyright" at all). Three of those four all use the same license
text (a simple X/BSD sort), and the fourth says only, "Distribution
and use is free, also for commercial purposes." Two other files
say, "This file is under the GNU General Public License." but those
have no actual copyright notices. Many others say something short
like: "Distribution and use is free, also for commercial purposes."
I don't know where your information "many of these files contain
brief, contradictory, confusing and occasionally non-free licensing
statements" came from. It does not comport with the reality I see
> "This file is a part of GLIBC and contains locale data.The Free
> Software Foundation does not claim any copyright interest in the locale
> data contained in this file. The foregoing does not affect the license
> of GLIBC as a whole. It does not exempt you from the conditions of the
> license if your use would otherwise be governed by that license."
No formal text we use says "GLIBC". It all says, "the GNU C Library".
If we were to add boilerplate text to the files, it would be in keeping
with the standards for such text elsewhere in our sources, and look like:
% This file is part of the GNU C Library and contains locale data.
% The Free Software Foundation does not claim any copyright interest
% in the locale data contained in this file. The foregoing does not
% affect the license of the GNU C Library as a whole. It does not
% exempt you from the conditions of the license if your use would
% otherwise be governed by that license.
(The % is the comment character in that source file format.)
You can peruse the current localedata source files at: