Make license/licenses field mandatory

Erik Hollensbe erik at
Fri Oct 14 17:05:14 EDT 2011

Top-posting hoooooooooooooo

Ok guys, let's think about this from a simple logistics standpoint. Neither Eric or Nick are qualified to make legal judgments on, well, anything as far as I'm aware of. That means RubyCentral is going to need a full-time lawyer, or more like an army of them, to police the 100,000+ gems that are out there. 

Maybe if one of you wants to foot the bill? Remember, in the United States it is *ILLEGAL* to dispense legal advice unless you are a licensed lawyer.


On Oct 14, 2011, at 12:16 PM, Marcus Rueckert wrote:

> On 2011-10-13 12:58:29 -0700, Eric Hodel wrote:
>> On Oct 12, 2011, at 6:54 AM, Pavol Rusnak wrote:
>>> I'd like to propose making license/licenses field mandatory. While doing
>>> rubygem packages for Linux distributions we have to deal with licenses a
>>> lot and currently not having a license field in gemspec is the only
>>> thing stopping us from doing automated packaging. One has to unpack the
>>> gem, search for the license text and change the field by hand. If these
>>> fields were mandatory (i.e. one or the other), it would make the whole
>>> process much easier. In my opinion the license is very important aspect
>>> of the gem similarly important as its name and I think also non-Linux
>>> parts of Ruby ecosystem would benefit from that change. What do you think?
>> The first goal of RubyGems is to provide useful tools for Rubyists to
>> share libraries.  The needs of repackagers comes second.
>> I'm fine with a warning at gem build time if the license is not set.
>> I don't want to make it suddenly mandatory as that disrupts a gem
>> author's workflow.  In order for this to be successful for gem
>> packagers, Rubyists need to agree it is a good thing.  Some authors
>> will avoid upgrading RubyGems if mandatory requirements are added too
>> quickly.  Perhaps in the future it can be made mandatory if gem
>> authors agree it is a good thing, but not for the present.
>> As a repackager, if the license field is not set you should submit a
>> patch to the gem author to set it for them.
> This is really not just about repackager.
> It also affects users, like others have pointed out. Just to name the
> recent example of the BSD4 clause fun with the bcrypt-ruby dependency
> for rails 3.1. :)
> rubygems would be an ideal please to make gem packager aware of that a
> license is needed. you dont want to know how often i have to open bugs
> with gems "what is the license of your code"? because there is neither a
> license header in the source files, or a license/copyright file or at
> least a mention of the license in the readme. (not even in their SCM)
> And proposing to use the license tag standard recently pushed by the big
> linux distributions will also make integration work easier. no need to
> invent new acronyms, no need for mapping tables between the different
> names. the syntax can even handle multiple license in the same package
> and knows if the conditions are "and" or "or".
> So i would really like to vouch for making the the check a bit more strict
> when a license tag is found in the gem spec, but having it optional with
> warning for a few releases.
>  darix
> -- 
>           openSUSE - SUSE Linux is my linux
>               openSUSE is good for you
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