ICC profiles and open licensing

Kai-Uwe Behrmann ku.b at gmx.de
Thu May 5 21:03:53 UTC 2011

Am 05.05.11, 21:17 +0100 schrieb David Woolley:
> Kai-Uwe Behrmann wrote:
>> So if someone alters the profile, it appears clear to me that the old 
>> copyright tag must be removed and the profile can be redistributed in any 
>> way including under GPL, just without refering to the originial author.
>> The above license is very permissive and relicencing should be no problem.
> It can't be distributed under the GPL, because the GPL requires proper and 
> complete copyright notices.  This is in part so that it is clear who can 
> enforce the GPL with respect to the various parts.
> Removing copyright notices is a very bad idea.

Thanks for your replay.

If a ICC profile would be distributed under the GPL, I would see a 
copyright violation if the copyright tag is not properly changed because 
of GPL 2.a).
The GPL states clearly "You must cause the modified files to carry 
prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any 
change." The ICC copyright tag is so prominently displayed in ICC profile 
tools, it is close to be impossible not to missinterprete the original 
author as the author of the modified ICC profile if the copyright tag 
remaines unchanged.

Some technical background. ICC profiles are binary blobs, which consist
of several parts called tags. Among these tags are text strings. 
These text strings are labeled as copyright and name tags. These are 
required to be changed by the ICC license. As well the profile internally 
stored checksum should be changed. The authors of the ICC license just 
emphasise what GPL 2.a) expresses as well.

Can this technical aspect be seen as the mandatory documentation of 
modifications following GPL 2.a)? After all the copyright and name tags 
inside a ICC profile are not like a literal text file as is usual 
accompanying a package for distribution. It is more like a documentation 
obligation. In practice the license file can stay in place.

Would it help to change the license to write about "the copyright tag and 
identification information" instead of "the original identification and 
copyright information" ?

The complete license text is here:
http://www.color.org/registry/profileregistration.xalter => License

kind regards
Kai-Uwe Behrmann
developing for colour management 
www.behrmann.name + www.oyranos.org

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