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Fwd: Maintaining change logs

From: Adam Fedor
Subject: Fwd: Maintaining change logs
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 09:27:02 -0700

Begin forwarded message:

From: Richard Stallman <address@hidden>
Date: Wed Dec 18, 2002  11:51:44 AM America/Denver
To: address@hidden
Subject: Maintaining change logs
Reply-To: address@hidden

X-Followup-Discussion-To: address@hidden
In the past, we recommended not mentioning changes in non-software
files (manuals, help files, etc.) in change logs.  However, we've been
advised that it is a good idea to include them, for the sake of
copyright records.

(This is a rule only for FSF-copyrighted packages.  For other
packages, it depends on how you are dealing with the copyright.)

When you install someone else's changes, put the contributor's name in
the change log entry rather than in the text of the entry.  In other
words, write this:

2002-07-14  John Doe  <address@hidden>

        * sewing.c: Make it sew.

rather than this:

2002-07-14  Usual Maintainer  <address@hidden>

        * sewing.c: Make it sew.  Patch by address@hidden

What constitutes a legally significant change:

If a person contributes more than around 15 lines of code and/or text,
that is legally significant for copyright purposes, which means we
need copyright papers for it.

A change of just a few lines (less than 15 or so) is not legally
significant for copyright.  A regular series of repeated changes, such
as renaming a symbol, is not legally significant even if the symbol
has to be renamed in many places.  Keep in mind, however, that a
series of minor changes by the same person can add up to a significant
contribution.  What counts is the total contribution of the person; it
is irrelevant which parts of it were contributed when.

Copyright does not cover ideas.  If someone contributes ideas but no
text, these ideas may be morally significant as contributions, and
worth giving credit for, but they are not significant for copyright
purposes.  Likewise, bug reports do not count for copyright purposes.

When giving credit to people whose contributions are not legally
significant for copyright purposes, be careful to make that fact
clear.  The credit should clearly say they did not contribute
significant code or text.

When people's contributions are not legally significant because they
did not write code, do this by stating clearly what their contribution
was.  For instance, you could write this:

 * Ideas by:
 *   Richard Mlynarik <> (1997)
 *   Masatake Yamato <> (1999)
@end example

@code{Ideas by:} makes it clear that Mlynarik and Yamato here
contributed only ideas, not code.  Without the @code{Ideas by:} note,
several years from now we would find it hard to be sure whether they
had contributed code, and we might have to track them down and ask

When you record a small patch in a change log file, first search for
previous changes by the same person, and see if his past
contributions, plus the new one, add up to something legally
significant.  If so, you should get copyright papers for all his
changes before you install the new change.

If that is not so, you can install the small patch.  Write @samp{(tiny
change)} after the patch author's name, like this:

2002-11-04  Robert Fenk  <address@hidden>  (tiny change)
@end example


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