Translations, Copyrights and Licenses

Josep Ma. Ferrer txemaq at
Wed Sep 23 20:54:50 BST 2020

Hello all,

some time ago, KDE adopted SPDX-based [1] and REUSE software [2]
compatible license statements for KDE licensing policy [3]. The main
goal of this adoption is to make the license statements machine readable
and following the REUSE principles, helping in a software license
compliance. New copyright and license statements policy is already
applied for developing Frameworks and many KDE applications.

As translators, we can implement this new copyright and license
formatting easily.

First, we must replace the copyright statements in the "po" files like:

# Jane Doe <jane at>, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

by [4]:

# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2013, 2015-2020 Jane Doe <jane at>

... for each copyright holder (generally author, or translator in our case).

Second, we must replace the license statements in the "po" files like
(this is an example):

# This file is distributed under the license LGPL version 2.1 or
# version 3 or later versions approved by the membership of KDE e.V.


SPDX-License-Identifier: LGPL-2.1-only OR LGPL-3.0-only OR

Of course, we need to use the proper license tags and formatting to make
a machine readable statements (more information on [3]). It's important
to note we can't change a file license without the approval of ALL the
file authors. Tentatively, this proposal it's only about a copyright and
license reformatting, not a relicensing.

But translations are a somewhat special when we talk about copyright and
licenses. Translations are considered a "derivative work", and generally
they are distributed in a package with other files (sources, binaries,
documentation, etc.). Of course, all the licenses for the files in a
package must be consistent, because the final license for the package
will be the most restrictive license between all the files. Distro
packagers also create packages for each language, gathering all the KDE
translations for a language in a package. On the other side, there are
also translations for web sites (,,
announcements and other) that have some particular licenses.

To avoid, or at least, to minimize license problems with
packaging/distribution, I suggest we can do our translations available
under a license like "This file is distributed under the same license as
the *foo* package". I can see two options for this change:

1) We need an special SPDX identifier to identify this "pseudo-license"
("This file is distributed under the same license as the *foo*
package"), and then use this special SPDX identifier in our "po" files.
This a manual process, prone to human errors.

2) Or we can extend scripts (or their successors) to respect
SPDX-License-Identifier marker and *compute* the "po" file license from
the package license. If possible, this will be an automated process.
This option also will give a license to all the "po" files without license.

What do you think about this question?

You can find more about KDE licensing here [5].

Best regards,

Josep Ma. Ferrer


More information about the kde-i18n-doc mailing list