Licensing policy

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This is the policy covering licensing issues for packages in ROSA.

Acceptable Licenses

There are four major sections for packages in ROSA: main, contrib, non-free and restricted.

The main and contrib sections accept only free / open source licensed software. This is considered to mean all licenses accepted as 'Free Software licenses' by the Free Software Foundation and all licenses accepted as 'open source licenses' by the Open Source Initiative, and any license which is effectively equivalent to one of these licenses (it uses different language, but the provisions work out to be the same). A list of FSF-approved licenses is available here: all licenses listed under "GPL-Compatible Free Software Licenses" and "GPL-Incompatible Free Software Licenses" are acceptable. A list of OSI-approved licenses is available here.

The non-free section accepts software under a license that is not free or open source, but permits unlimited public redistribution. No list of such licenses is available: packages are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The restricted section accepts software under a license that is not free or open source and which cannot be redistributed publicly without limitations.

Standard License Names

The list of licenses acceptable and not acceptable for the main and contrib repositories can be found at the ROSA License List page.

Short license names provided on that page are to be used in spec files.

Licensing Guidelines for packages

For package maintainers, ROSA provides Licensing Guideline which is based on the Fedora licensing guidelines with four important differences. The differences are covered below.

Artistic License

The Fedora guidelines consider the original, unclarified Artistic License to be unacceptable. As the Open Source Initiative considers it an open source license, under the ROSA policy, it is an acceptable license for the main and contrib repositories.

Similar licenses

ROSA considers licenses that have effectively the same provisions as an approved license, but phrased in different language, to be acceptable. In this case, the License field in the package should consist of the approved short name for the most similar license, followed by -like. For instance, a package whose license was effectively equivalent to the BSD license would have this field:

License: BSD-like

Non-free licenses

As mentioned above, the non-free and restricted sections in ROSA accept non-free packages. When working with these repositories, the following strings are acceptable for the License field:

  • Freeware
  • Shareware
  • Proprietary

Pick the string that best describes the package. Freeware refers to software which can be redistributed without charge in binary form in its entirety, but which is not under a free or open source license (access to the source code is restricted). Shareware refers to software of which only a subsidiary portion can be redistributed without charge; access to the complete package requires payment to the copyright holder or another body. Proprietary refers to software for which no redistribution without payment is allowed. It should be used for packages in the restricted section which are included due to an agreement negotiated between ROSA Linux and the copyright holder. For all non-free packages, the complete license text should be included in the package.

Including license text in packages

In ROSA, when the license requires a copy of the license text to be included with the compiled code, the license text must be included in the compiled package as a documentation file. When the license does not require a copy of the license text to be included with the compiled code, our policy is that the license text should not be included in the package. Lists follow to clarify which licenses require a copy of the license text to be included with the package, and which do not.

Copy of license text required

  • BSD

Copy of license text not required

  • GPL (all versions)
  • MIT

License of ROSA SPEC Files

All original ROSA contributions are governed by the ROSA Contributor License Agreement (CLA). This allows all recipients to have:

"A perpetual, non-exclusive, worldwide, fully paid-up, royalty free, irrevocable copyright license to reproduce, prepare derivative works of, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute this Contribution and such derivative works"

Since every ROSA SPEC file is contributed by CLA signers, every ROSA SPEC is available under these license terms (unless otherwise explicitly licensed).

This Policy is based on the Mandriva Licensing Policy.