Re: Social Contract: Practical Implications
Glenn Maynard writes:
> On Sat, May 08, 2004 at 09:06:01AM -0400, Michael Poole wrote:
>> > Many of us believe that any string of bits is software, and that the text
>> > of the GPL is software, and so the old SC applied to the GPL text equally
>> > to the new one--but nobody was silly enough to try to enforce that.
>> Then where do you get off trying to enforce the DFSG against firmware
>> blobs but not against license texts, which are used by an enormously
>> greater number of users than any firmware blob?
> "Then where do you get off trying to enforce the DFSG against Netscape but
> not against license texts, which are used by an enormously greater number
> of users than Netscape?"
> That's not convincing, either.
Not convincing about what? My point was that there is (apparently
intentionally) inconsistent application of the DFSG. If you do not
want to address that issue, though, I suppose that is up to you.
>> Calling something
>> "silly" does not excuse it as a violation of the DFSG.
> Feel free to do something about it, then, such as by proposing a GR to
> explicitly allow them, or by trying to convince the ftpmasters that the text
> of the GPL (and therefore all GPL software) must be removed from the archive.
I am not a Debian developer, so I cannot propose a GR. I am already
doing what I can to raise the issue's visibility.
If you want my suggestion for how to resolve the problem, it would be
to replace SC paragraph 1 with:
1. Programs in Debian will remain 100% free
We promise that any components that execute on the Debian system's
CPU(s) and any components that are necessary to interact with the
user will be free according to "The Debian Free Software
Guidelines." We will support people who create or use both free and
non-free works on Debian. We will never make the system require the
use of a non-free component.
This allows for non-DFSG-free documentation, firmware and license
texts. I believe the core goal of free software is to let people
control how their computer operates. Documentation (including
standards documents) can usually be (re-)written more easily than
software; there is little leverage to make peripheral firmware free;
and license texts are meta-information.
I have not yet thought hard about how to "break" the wording above in
the sense of there being some way to follow it that takes away what I
would call an essential software freedom.
> The fact that non-free license texts are allowed in main does not imply
> that every other bit of non-free software must be allowed in, too.
I was not arguing for any such an implication. The DFSG was revised
to eliminate any argument whether non-free elements are permitted in
main; I do not see why license texts should be exempt from the current