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Re: Free software

mitchell@mozcom.com (Bill Mitchell)  wrote on 13.07.97 in <[🔎] Pine.LNX.3.96.970713082609.490H-100000@S002>:

> 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
>        persons.
> 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

Actually, in this context, the connotations of this highly-charged term  
are exactly what is intended. This _is_ about the exact same thing that  
those civil-rights issues are about.

There is a very large difference between discriminating against people,  
and discriminating between licenses.

Licenses don't have civil rights, persons do.

So I believe "discrimination" is exactly the right word for the social  
contract, whereas it is misleading in discussing non-free and contrib.

> 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?

I don't think so.

> 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.

This also includes stuff for which there is _no_ source available. We just  
need to be able to freely distribute what we have, not including stuff the  
owner didn't chose to give us in the first place.

MfG Kai

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