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Re: License of m4/ltoptions.m4

From: Alexandre Duret-Lutz
Subject: Re: License of m4/ltoptions.m4
Date: Tue, 09 Nov 2004 22:38:07 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.1003 (Gnus v5.10.3) Emacs/21.3.50 (gnu/linux)

>>> "Gary" == Gary V Vaughan <address@hidden> writes:

 Gary> Hi Ralf,
 Gary> Ralf Wildenhues wrote:
 >> Hi Peter,
 >> * Peter Ekberg wrote on Tue, Nov 09, 2004 at 01:33:29PM CET:
 >>> Hello!
 >>> There is no exception from the GPL in m4/ltoptions.m4, like
 >>> there is in the other lt*.m4 files in that directory. Is
 >>> that an oversight or is this file only needed for backwards
 >>> compatibility or something like that?

 Gary> I based this file on m4/options.m4 in automake and copied the
 Gary> license from there :-(  The lack of exception is troubling,

The copyright notices of Automake's m4/*.m4 files were added by Paul 
on 2001-09-22 (that was after the 1.5 release).  It looks like the
missing exception to the GPL is an omission nobody noticed so far.

Before this change there was no boilerplate, and when the files
were concatenated to form aclocal.m4, it was prepended with:

| # aclocal.m4 generated automatically by aclocal 1.5
| # Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
| # Free Software Foundation, Inc.
| # This file is free software; the Free Software Foundation
| # gives unlimited permission to copy and/or distribute it,
| # with or without modifications, as long as this notice is preserved.
| # This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
| # but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law; without
| # even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A

Today this copyright notice is still output in aclocal.m4, but
it is followed by the copyright notices of all the files
included.  This sounds confusing since the top says "unlimited
permission to copy and distribute with or without modifications"
while the concatenated parts also include each a notice that
state "GPL". (*)

I don't really know what to think about this.  Some ideas:

 1. prefix all the m4/*.m4 licenses with `##' so aclocal 
    omit them from aclocal.m4 (leaving only the "unlimited 
    permission to ..." license added by aclocal)
 2. add an exception to all the m4/*.m4 files similar to
    that used in the aux scripts

 3. both

Now you may also consider what happens when third-party m4
macros (with custom licensing) are intermixed into aclocal.m4.
(Seems another good reason to prefer setups with m4_include).

(*) Amusingly, Automake's own aclocal.m4 is probably the only
    aclocal.m4 where there is no such confusion.
Alexandre Duret-Lutz

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