[Distutils] RFC: PEP 541 - Package Index Name Retention

Lukasz Langa lukasz at langa.pl
Fri Jan 13 13:08:23 EST 2017

Hello distutils-sig,
I'd like to get some comments on this. I was asked by Donald to work on it. It removes ambiguity from some of the situations that crop up increasingly often with regards to package names on the PyPI. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!
- Ł

PEP: 541
Title: Package Index Name Retention
Version: $Revision$
Last-Modified: $Date$
Author: Łukasz Langa <lukasz at langa.pl>
Status: Draft
Type: Process
Content-Type: text/x-rst
Created: 12-January-2017


This PEP proposes an extension to the Terms of Use [1]_ of the Package
Index [2]_, clarifying expectations of package owners regarding
ownership of a package name on the Package Index, specifically with
regards to conflict resolution.

Existing package repositories such as CPAN [3]_, NPM [4]_, and
GitHub [5]_ will be investigated as prior art in this field.


Given that package names on the Index are sharing a single flat
namespace, a unique name is a finite resource.  The growing age of
the Package Index causes a constant rise of situations of conflict
between the current use of the name and a different suggested use of
the same name.

This document aims to provide general guidelines for solving the
most typical cases of such conflicts.


The main idea behind this document is that the Package Index serves the
community.  Every user is invited to upload content to the Package Index
under the Terms of Use, understanding that it is at the sole risk of
the user.

While the Package Index is not a backup service, the maintainers of the
Package Index do their best to keep that content accessible indefinitely
in its published form. However, in certain edge cases the greater
community's needs might overweigh the individual's expectation of
ownership of a package name.

The use cases covered by this document are:

* Abandoned projects:

    * continued maintenance by a different set of users; or
    * removal from the Index for use with a different project.

* Active projects:

    * resolving disputes over a name.

* Invalid projects.



The user of the Package Index is solely responsible for being reachable
by the Package Index maintainers for matters concerning projects that
the user owns.  In every case where contacting the user is necessary,
the maintainers will try to do so at least three times, using the
following means of contact:

* the e-mail address on file in the user's profile on the Package Index;
* the e-mail address listed in the Author field for a given project
  uploaded to the Index; and
* any e-mail addresses found in the given project's documentation
  on the Index or on the listed Home Page.

The maintainers stop trying to reach the user after six weeks.

Abandoned projects

A project is considered *abandoned* when ALL of the following are met:

* owner not reachable (see Reachability above);
* no releases within the past twelve months; and
* no activity from the owner on the project's home page (or no
  home page listed).

All other projects are considered *active*.

Continued maintenance of an abandoned project

If a candidate appears willing to continue maintenance on an *abandoned*
project, ownership of the name is transferred when ALL of the following
are met:

* the project has been determined *abandoned* by the rules described
* the candidate is able to demonstrate own failed attempts to contact
  the existing owner;
* the candidate is able to demonstrate skin in the game (improvements
  made on the candidate's own fork of the project);
* the candidate is able to demonstrate why a fork under a different name
  is not an acceptable workaround; and
* the maintainers of the Package Index don't have any additional

Under no circumstances will a name be reassigned against the wishes of
a reachable owner.

Removal of an abandoned project

Projects are never removed from the Package Index solely on the basis
of abandonment.  Artifacts uploaded to the Package Index hold inherent
historical value.

An *abandoned* project can be transferred to a new owner for purposes
of reusing the name when ALL of the following are met:

* the project has been determined *abandoned* by the rules described
* the candidate is able to demonstrate own failed attempts to contact
  the existing owner;
* the candidate is able to demonstrate skin in the game (the other
  project suggested to reuse the name already exists and meets
  notability requirements);
* the candidate is able to demonstrate why a fork under a different name
  is not an acceptable workaround;
* download statistics on the Package Index for the existing package
  indicate project is not being used; and
* the maintainers of the Package Index don't have any additional

Name conflict resolution for active projects

The maintainers of the Package Index are not arbiters in disputes
around *active* projects.  There are many possible scenarios here,
a non-exclusive list describing some real-world examples is presented
below. None of the following qualify for package name ownership

1. User A and User B share project X. After some time they part ways
   and each of them wants to continue the project under name X.
2. User A owns a project X outside the Package Index.  User B creates
   a package under the name X on the Index.  After some time, User A
   wants to publish project X on the Index but realizes name is taken.
   This is true even if User A's project X gains notability and the
   User B's project X is not notable.
3. User A publishes project X to the Package Index.  After some time
   User B proposes bug fixes to the project but no new release is
   published by User A.  This is true even if User A agrees to publish
   a new version and later doesn't, even if User B's changes are merged
   to the source code repository for project X.

Again, the list above is not exclusive.  The maintainers of the Package
Index recommend users to get in touch with each other and solve the
issue by respectful communication (see the PSF Code of Conduct [6]_).

Invalid projects

A project published on the Package Index meeting ANY of the following
is considered invalid and will be removed from the Index:

* project does not conform to Terms of Use;
* project is malware (designed to exploit or harm systems or users);
* project contains illegal content;
* project violates copyright or licenses;
* project is name squatting (package has no functionality or is
* project name, description, or content violates the Code of Conduct;
* project is abusing the Package Index for purposes it was not

If you find a project that might be considered invalid, create
a support request [7]_.

Prior art

NPM contains a separate section linked from the front page called
`Package Name Disputes <https://www.npmjs.com/policies/disputes>`_.
It is described as a "living document", as of January 2017 its
contents might be summarized as follows:

* package name squatting is prohibited;
* users wanting to reuse a project name are required to contact the
  existing author, with cc to support at npmjs.com;
* all contact must conform to the NPM Code of Conduct;
* in case of no resolution after a few weeks, npm inc. holds the right
  to the final decision in the matter.

CPAN lets any user upload modules with the same name. PAUSE, a related
index, only lists modules uploaded by the primary maintainer or listed
co-maintainers.  CPAN documentation doesn't address disputes otherwise.

GitHub's terms of service contain an exhaustive list of behavior
not meeting general conditions of use.  While not codified anywhere,
GitHub does agree for users to reclaim abandoned account names by
archiving the abandoned account and letting the other user or
organization rename their account.  This is done on a case-by-case

Rejected Proposals

The original approach was to hope for the best and solve issues as they
arise without written policy.  This is not sustainable.  The lack of
generally available guidelines in writing on package name conflict
resolution is causing unnecessary tensions.  From the perspective of
users, decisions made by the Package Index maintainers without written
guidelines may appear arbitrary.  From the perspective of the Package
Index maintainers, solving name conflicts is a stressful task due to
risk of unintentional harm due to lack of defined policy.


.. [1] Terms of Use of the Python Package Index

.. [2] The Python Package Index

.. [3] The Comprehensive Perl Archive Network

.. [4] Node Package Manager

.. [5] GitHub

.. [6] Python Community Code of Conduct

.. [7] PyPI Support Requests


This document has been placed in the public domain.


The many participants of the Distutils and Catalog SIGs for their
ideas over the years.

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