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Re: Free software

I'm a bit reluctant to comment on this thread.  I'm sure this
subject has been beat to death in the past, while I was unsubscribed,
and this sounds like it has potential for becoming a runaway thread.

However, my $.02 worth follows:

On Fri, 11 Jul 1997, Philip Hands wrote:

> [...] The first five words I thought of to 
> describe the fact that we don't put all the software in a big lump were:
>   discriminate, separate, isolate, differentiate, classify
> Unfortunately, all of these make my sub conscious civil-rights alarm go off, 
> which gives a negative slant to anything that follows.

Good point.  "Discriminate", a highly-charged word, is prominent
in our Free Software Guidelines:

       5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

       The license must not discriminate against any person or group of

I wonder if it might not be possible to replace this very general
and very highly-charged section with less general sections stating
specific restrictions, and stating them in less highly-charged terms

In qualifying software as "free", are we concerned about any other
sorts of discrimination than selective restrictions on free redistribution
and on free use?  If not, I'd note that our Free Software Guidelines
already include a separate section requiring that software be freely
redistributable.  If we add a section requiring that the software be
freely usable without restriction or royalty, would those two sections
together state our specific nondiscrimination requirements for free
software well enough so that we might remove the much more general
and very highly-charged section saying that licenses of free software
must not discriminate against persons or groups?

> Perhaps, if we could come up with some words that have not been hijacked in 
> the past by a totalitarian regime, we could stop worrying about the fact that 
> we don't use just one directory for storing all our packages.
> How about:
>   For the convenience of our users, we consolidate all packages into one
>   of three groups, depending upon the details of their copyright.  The three
>   groups are called non-free, contrib and main, their meanings are as follows:
>   non-free:   This group of packages have copyrights that restrict their
>               distribution in a way that might inconvenience CD manufacturers.
>               If you wish to distribute these please check the individual
>               copyrights.
>   contrib:    This group of packages have copyrights (or depend upon packages),
>               that might prohibit their use by some of our users.
>   main:       This group of packages have copyrights that allow their use in 
> all
>               the situations our users have come to expect (see the Debian free
>               software guidelines for more details: 
>                  http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html#guidelines

But the Debian Free Software Guidelines which are referenced here
themselves contain that highly-charged "must not discriminate" section.

Also, I'd suggest reversing the order (talk about the main distribution
first, and non-free last), and casting the explanations more in terms
of what is allowed, not in terms of what is prohibited.

binary and source directory trees (main distribution):
  These packages have licenses which allow free use and which
  allow free redistribution in binary and source form.

contrib tree:
  These packages have licenses which allow free redistribution
  in binary and source form, but which may prohibit or restrict
  use by some users.  CD manufacturers may redistribute these
  packages, but users should check the usage restrictions in the
  individual package licenses.

non-free tree:
  These packages have licenses which may restrict redistribution.
  CD manufacturers (or others) desiring to redistribute these
  packages should carefully analyze the copyright and license
  statements found in the individual packages, and base their
  redistribution decisions on the terms found there.

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