Experience in packaging perl modules from CPAN , suggests that most CPAN authors are woefully ignorant of copyright and licensing issues. Unfortunately I have been provoked into attempting to do something about this. I present Test::Copyright. I would appreciate feedback not least on the idea.
Edit: Thanks for the feedback, monks!
I need to completely revamp the documentation as the reaction so far has been quite negative overall. I will have a stab here, but first I have to come clean that I have been packaging for Debian. The argument was internal to Debian and centred about how best to "help" the Debian Perl team. My experience is that in easy cases it only takes a few minutes to package a Perl module for Debian. Harder cases tend to be caused by things like this:
- Fails to build: There is not a lot that can be done there as it is adequately captured by the CPAN testing.
- Spelling errors: Again this is already dealt with upstream by Test::Spelling. Still many many spelling errors slip through.
- Bad pod documentation: Again Test::Pod should cover that but many modules have a missing or an extra "=back".
- Bad shebang in the examples scripts: This is crops up quite a bit, but in no way can I argue that it is an issue for upstream.
- Inadequate copyright or license information: This is really the killer. But clearly I need to explain why.
Seeing the negative feedback I had a look at the Fedora licensing guidelines. Indeed you will notice that Fedora cares just as much as Debian about the presence of a license. But it seems not to care as much about the copyright. However the Fedora guidelines say:
In cases where the licensing is unclear, it may be necessary to contact the copyright holders to confirm the licensing of code or content. In those situations, it is _always_ preferred to ask upstream .....
I read this as saying that Fedora are assuming that upstream and the copyright holders are always the same, which may not be always entirely true. Debian takes the alternative policy of tracking the the status of the copyright holders explicitly.