[Build-common-hackers] Re: CDBS documentation

Don Armstrong don at debian.org
Wed May 10 17:57:43 UTC 2006

On Tue, 09 May 2006, Marc Dequènes wrote:
> The documentation is released under the GPL and from my
> understanding the GPL requires that you keep the previous changelog
> entries.
> I believe changelogs are part of copyright notices, stating who changed
> what on which part of the "work", and when. The GPL says in section 1:
>   [...] provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on
>   each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty;
>   keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the
>   absence of any warranty; [...]
> A changelog is then not part of a "work".

A changelog is not a copyright notice. A changelog doesn't indicate
who holds the copyright on the work, when the work was created, under
which license the work has been released under, nor does it disclaim
warranty. [The latter two aren't part of a copyright notice either,
but are other bits covered by this section of the GPL.]

> Moreover, section 2.a says:
>   You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating
>   that you changed the files and the date of any change.
> meaning that you have to add to all previous "intact" notices which
> changes you made.

That's not what it says at all; it may be an intention,[1] but it's
definetly not what the verbiage says. Indeed, a mere changelog can't
even satisfy your interpretation of this requirement, because the
changelog isn't present within the modified file.

That being said, a complete changelog is a good thing from a social
perspective, as it enables people to figure out why different people
have changed things in the work... but it's clearly not a requirement
of the license. I'd suggest making sure the changelogs are as complete
as possible, but that's just because it's the right thing to do, not
because the license requires it.

Don Armstrong

1: I'd argue that it's not even an intention, but since I don't
inhabit RMS's mind, I can't tell you that for sure.
My spelling ability, or rather the lack thereof, is one of the wonders
of the modern world.

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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