Improve or clarify translation licensing procedure

Bug #478902 reported by Renato Silva on 2009-11-09
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Launchpad itself

Bug Description

Translations copyright section in the above terms of use should be clearer regarding the fact that if you use any translation done in Launchpad, that work is being given to you under BSD license, not the license of your project. There's no license change directly from the author, but from the fact that your project's license is BSD-compatible. The author is the copyright owner and he's not giving you his work under the license adopted in your project, he is giving you his work under BSD.

The BSD text stands that it must be reproduced in derived works, and that's the point of an author giving his work to LP users under BSD x under any BSD-compatible license they wish. In the current approach, the BSD license *should* be included in your software package, because you are reusing a BSD work.

However I wonder how many people are actually aware that this is the correct procedure. Specially, when you download a .po file generated by Launchpad, it should stand the license as BSD, not as "the same" of the underlying project. And it should include a copy of the BSD license inside or along with the .po file.

For avoiding the need of including the BSD license in the projects, I would change the terms of use like this:

Rather than "these translations are made available to Canonical and in turn to you under the BSD license", we could have "the author of these translations makes them available to Canonical and Launchpad users under any license they wish to use, as long as that license is BSD-compatible.". I think this is my core point.

If that for some reason is not possible, then I think the terms of use could have at least the mentioned clarification about the need of including the BSD text regardless of your project's license, and the exported .po files should have the BSD license attached somehow.

Below is an IRC conversation from #fsf that inspired me to open this bug.


RenatoSilva: something seems wrong here: It says that the work done in Launchpad is available under BSD for other users, rather than under the license of the underlying project using those translations, which would be perfectly possible, so that when you do a translation in LP, you are automatically giving others the right of using your translations under BSD-compatible licenses. It's a license change allowed by the copyright owners and that's different from incorporating a BSD work into another with a different license.

RenatoSilva: I mean, according to the terms of use and the BSD text, all projects using translations from LP *should* include the BSD text in their packages regardless of the project's license. However when e.g you download a .po file, it stands that its license is the same as the project, rather than explictly specifying it as BSD, which should be done according to the above terms.

RenatoSilva: I just wonder why not stand something different in the terms of use: "when you translate something in LP, you're automatically licensing your work under any BSD-compatible license, for any LP user that wishes to reuse that work". Therefore it would not require adding the BSD text, which I wonder if anyone currently does. [...]

RenatoSilva: Kamping_Kaiser: I think as I said above, there's no point to have a static licensing when you can have a copyright holder allowing another licenses.

Kamping_Kaiser: RenatoSilva: it ensures everything acquired from LP has a particular license, irrespective of what might happen elsewhere.

RenatoSilva: that is, when I reuse a translation done by someone else in LP, that person is giving me the translation under the license of my project, because it's BSD compatible. But that's not how it works (according to the terms of use, but it seems that's how it's interpreted in practice): currently, when I reuse a translation done by someone else in LP, he's giving me his work under BSD always, which obligates me to include the BSD text in my project, which I suspect too few people actually do. My point is that the copyright holder does not need to give the work always under BSD, he can give the work under any license because he's the copyright owner. The advantage is that you would not need to include the BSD text. Your project keeps "mono-licensed".

RenatoSilva: however I must confess "BSD license" is much more clear than "any BSD-compatible license". Compatible would need some clear definition, and I wonder if it would be possible.

RenatoSilva: # Copyright (c) 2009 Rosetta Contributors and Canonical Ltd 2009
RenatoSilva: # This file is distributed under the same license as the moin-solenoid package.
RenatoSilva: This text ^^^^ is what you get when you download a .po file generated by LP. It should not say "the same license", it should say "BSD" for LP correctly following its own terms. However iirc that's a default message from gettext, maybe LP maintainers didn't notice that.

description: updated
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KarlGoetz (kgoetz) wrote :

FWIW, 'bsd licence' is somewhat vauge, so I'm assuming it refers to

description: updated
description: updated
description: updated
description: updated
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description: updated
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Renato Silva (renatosilva) wrote :

By "BSD license" I mean the one mentioned and reproduced in LP terms.

summary: - Clarification or fix for translation licensing procedure
+ Improve or clarify translation licensing procedure
Curtis Hovey (sinzui) on 2009-12-29
affects: launchpad → launchpad-documentation
affects: launchpad-documentation → rosetta
tags: added: docs

There are several problems that need to be fixed: first, the header we add to (some) files is out-dated: Canonical assumes no copyright over the generated file. Next, it needs to be clarified about how this works in practice when some suggestions are BSD licensed (provided through LP) and then integrated into a project with a different license. Also, we need to clarify that importing existing translations under a different license doesn't make them BSD licensed, though LP is not able to do a complete tracking of all licenses on a message-by-message level, so it doesn't.

Marking as "Low" because it's a lot of little problems that need fixing all around the place. For now, we limit ourselves to responding to inquieries directly, and we'd appreciate help (remember, LP is open source itself: start at from anyone interesting in helping us fix these issues.

Changed in rosetta:
status: New → Triaged
importance: Undecided → Low
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