[impdev] GPL requirements and the ChangeLog

Jacek Antonelli jacek.antonelli at gmail.com
Thu Sep 3 00:46:48 PDT 2009

There are two related issues that we need to discuss and take some
action on: the ChangeLog, and a specific requirement of the GPLv2,
section 2 part a:

> 2 a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
> stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.

( from http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html )

We have overlooked this requirement, and have not been adding notices
to the files that we have modified. We have been keeping a ChangeLog,
but the wording of that GPL clause suggests that we must add a notice
in the modified files themselves. The ChangeLog would be good enough
if it were GPLv3, but we are stuck with GPLv2 due to LL's choice of
license terms.

Obviously, adding all these notices would be a big hassle to do
manually, and we're likely to forget to add them sometimes. McCabe and
I are already tired of maintaining even just the ChangeLog, so having
to also maintain notices in all the files we modify would be a real

In the past, McCabe and I have discussed the possibility of updating
the ChangeLog automatically, from the Git log message (since we mostly
just copy and paste it already). In theory, we could write a script
that would also add a notice to any modified files, and use that
script as a Git "hook" to update the files automatically.

Ideally, the workflow would allow us to be as lazy as possible:
1) Modify code as usual
2) Run "git commit"
3) Provide log message
4) Git hook script updates ChangeLog.txt and all modified files
5) Git stores the final results
6) Everyone lives happily ever after

I think this is feasible with a Python script or something. It would
be a little bit tricky to write the script, but do-able.

We would also need to run the script to add notices in the files for
all past modifications.

What are your guys' thoughts on this?

- Jacek

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