[GRASS translations] Re: [GRASS-PSC] Update: Translation Licensing in Rosetta

Hamish hamish_nospam at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 6 05:54:46 EST 2006

Markus Neteler wrote:
> Dear all,
> [ref: Web based translation platform]
> I was contacted by the Rosetta team yesterday with a followup
> of their license issue (Copyright for translations created in 
> Rosetta/launchpad.net):
> Related mails:
>  http://grass.itc.it/pipermail/translations/2006-June/000212.html
>  http://grass.itc.it/pipermail/translations/2006-June/000214.html
>  http://grass.itc.it/pipermail/translations/2006-July/000224.html
> Their new proposal/offer is that translations would end up being
> BSD licensed, and possibly reused in other projects hosted on
> Launchpad.

my take: 
"In effect BSD" because they can do what they like with it.

> We now have to decide if this works for us in order to proceed with
> Rosetta or not use it.
> Markus
> PS: Their legalese page is here: https://launchpad.net/legal/
>     According to my browser it was modified last 05.12.2006, 14:50:41
>     (the page is lacking the date, so I don't know if that's
>     the new version. As it doesn't mention BSD, it is problably
>     an interim version)

[will someone from the Rosetta team be invited to join this thread, or
will questions/results be filtered through Markus?]
(it's a public list AFAI am concerned)

First of all, I think Rosetta is a wonderful project and the world
owes Canonical a debt of gratitude for it. It would be great if GRASS
could be part of the action.

but the devil's in the details....

If I understand the legal bits at https://launchpad.net/legal/

* All grass _("strings") remain (c) original contributor, GPL.
This makes me happy.

[If otherwise, my guess is it would be impossible to find+get 100%
 authors of GPL strings to concur. (authors who didn't assign copyright
or co-copyright to the G.Dev.Team)]

* All _existing_ translated strings remain (c) original contributor, GPL.
This makes me happy.

"All translations imported from external sources are owned by the
translator that made them. In general, these translations are licensed
under the same terms as the software for which they are a translation."

"In general," ?! They probably mean translations imported from external
sources may have started with a different license than the upstream
package itself, but I could figure a way to reinterpret that to mean
something else entirely. Vagueness in legalspeak is Not Good.
This makes me unhappy.

* Strings translated on Rosetta become:
# Copyright (c) (c) 2006 Canonical Ltd, and Rosetta Contributors 2006

[two (c)(c)? is that super-copyrighted?]

Then Ubuntu, Inc. can re-license as they see fit. (highly doubtful, but
legal, example: they make a deal with Ubersoft to license them  for a
zillion dollars to fund a corporate retreat to the moon. More likely
example: they declare that all Rosetta translations are BSD for all)

"C, Ltd., and Rosetta Contributors" is a bit murky. Putting brain into
evil lawyer mode: If I contribute 1 translation to Rosetta, do I become
a legal member of "Rosetta Contributors" and gain copyright to all
strings in the database? (I know that's not the intent, but could it be
an evil-lawyer outcome?)

I am happy to have all new strings contributed from Rosetta dual-
licensed. The contributor knew that when they submitted the
translation it might, in some strange twist of fate, end up in a
closed Ubersoft product one day, possibly with Canonical getting
full financial and/or public credit for it.

End run paradox->we own the GPL English strings, they relicense as BSD,
then that is re-fed into Rosetta and translated back into BSD English.

Which leads me to my next point.

Let's be clear: a straight translation is a derivative product.
I can't translate Harry Potter into Klingon and claim copyright on
the result. Thus they need our permission to gain copyright on the
translations. But often it isn't ours (collectively) to give away,
it's the individual author's. We can't give away, and they can't take,
something which is neither ours nor theirs. This makes me uneasy, but
neither happy nor unhappy.

* Someone like KerGIS (BSD) could only use re-licensed Rosetta translations.
I am fine with that, but is it possible to separate the strings once in
the system? If not, in effect the Rosetta translations stay GPL. (which
is fine with me; it becomes Canonical & the other project's problem, not
ours. *Their copyright header in the translation file needs to reflect
that. They can't claim the entire merged file.*)

Also there is this page:

 (Interestingly much clearer than the legal page. the software company
  is made more of coders than lawyers I guess)

"Being an "official Rosetta product" means the authors of the product
delegate the job of dealing with translations to Rosetta translators.
They will just have to post new versions of their templates, and collect
the fruits of translator's work before their release."

Another point to consider: a lower barrier for entry is wonderful, but
keep in mind that this can also open the door to undetected verbal
graffiti in our product.


I'd support joining Rosetta if the legalese is a bit clearer WRT the
disposition of already translated messages.

legal contract:
* exactitude in https://launchpad.net/legal   e.g. "In general,"

* example of what copyright headers added to translation files look like

* to attribute copyright correctly, do we need to have two incoming .po
files, ours and theirs, then merge during build-time? ie how not to put
(c) Canonical on stuff which didn't come from them?


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