[FFmpeg-devel] [VOTE] License header consistency

Stefano Sabatini stefano.sabatini-lala
Tue Aug 19 22:45:19 CEST 2008

On date Tuesday 2008-08-19 12:39:22 +0200, Diego Biurrun encoded:
> I have put considerable effort into getting all license headers
> consistent (and the whole licensing situation in order).  This includes
> minor formatting issues and major things like referencing non-existing
> license versions.
> In any case, the end goal was to create a situation which can be
> sustained in the future *with minimal effort*.  You can pick a file at
> random, paste the header into a new file and be confident that you did
> everything right in just a few seconds.
> Now all I'm asking is that everybody please make the minimal effort of
> investing a few seconds of copy and paste when adding a new file.  We
> are really talking about seconds here, just a tiny fraction of the time
> it takes to write all of the code that new file will likely contain.
> If you do not invest this minimal effort, you send the following message
> to me: "thanks for nothing and screw you".  You'll have to forgive me
> when I feel this way and vent my frustration by replying "*sigh*" to one
> of your commits.
> We have talked about this several times and you keep disregarding or
> forgetting the issues.  What do you expect me to do? Be happy?
> Show no reaction at all?
> I will reiterate the arguments one more time, hopefully for the last
> time:
> Inconsistent license headers have had the following problems in the
> past
> - mixed and contradictory license statements (one part of the header
>   speaks of GPL, another part of LGPL)
> - non-existing license versions (GPL 2.1)
> - confused license versions (Lesser GPL 2.0, Library GPL 2.1)
> - missing "or later" clause
> - obsolete FSF postal address
> - inconsistent language (FFmpeg vs. this library vs. this program)
> - inconsistent license boilerplate formatting
> Some of these issues are more important than others, but none are
> completely without merit.  Files get reused in other projects and may
> move to completely unrelated places.  A simple line like "This file is
> part of FFmpeg" can help a poor programmer find related code.
> And trust me, when you end up looking at every single file of a project
> to review the licensing situation (like I have done for FFmpeg and
> MPlayer), consistently formatted license boilerplates save you a lot
> of time.
> But the point is that all of this can be avoided at practically zero
> effort, because I have *already* done all the heavy lifting myself.
> All that is necessary now is to copy and paste from within FFmpeg.
> This takes seconds.  Is that so much to ask for?

I don't know which are the legalese sophisms which the following
solution may break, but if the problem is to keep consistency
between license headers, what about to simply *include* license
headers like this:

 * copyright (c) 2001 Fabrice Bellard
#include "libavutil/lgpl_2_1.h"


This would reduce the visual clutter of each file header, and
would fix the consistency problem once and for all, with all the
other advantages consequent to the code duplication avoidance.

But again, I don't know if this solution is valid *from a legal point
of view*, neither I know other projects adopting such a solution.

FFmpeg = Faboulous Forgiving Multimedia Power Egregious Gadget

More information about the ffmpeg-devel mailing list