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Re: GNU Win32? Not anymore.

On Fri, 11 Jul 1997, Bruce Perens wrote:

> From: Bill Mitchell <mitchell@mozcom.com>
> > It sounds to me as if Cygnus would allow free redistribution,
> > but place restriction on usage by some users.  That would make
> > this package a candidate for contrib, right?
> For non-free as far as I can tell. Non-free is for programs
> with licenses that don't fit our published guidelines.

Could you clarify that for me, please?  I've been away, and I
missed the recent discussion about this which you mentioned on
another thread.  However, it's been my understanding that
non-free was created to, and is still intended to provide a
simple and effective way of segregating out packages which
cannot be picked up and freely distributed as part of a
Debian distribution on CD without individual package-by-package
attention by the CD manufacturer to copyright restrictions.

It seems that, if there's no copyright problem with CD manufacturers
picking it up and distributing it as a part of the Debian distribution,
placing Win32 in non-free because we have an objection to some other
aspect of their license conditions would extend the usage of non-free
quite a lot.  It seems as if non-free would now be more than a simple
practical convenience for CD manufacturers -- used to make it easy
for them to pick up and distribute Debian without concern about
copyright problems with the packages they're picking up.  It seems
as if non-free is becoming a tool to support advocacy positions.

> > (IMO, the names "contrib" and "non-free" contribute more
> > confusion than clarity about what is contained there.
> > "usage-restricted" and "distribution-restricted" might be
> > better names, more descriptive of what's contained there.)
> I'm not clear why you propose "usage-restricted" for "contrib". [...]

It seems that I had a misunderstanding of the criteria for contrib
categorization.  I was keying off of the following snippet from a
recent debian-devel posting by Philip Hands <phil@hands.com>.

>   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.

I took this to be a summary statement of current policy, but I now see
that version of the Debian policy manual states quite different
criteria for contrib than what I understood this summary statement to say.

However, let's look at the Win32 case, and bounce it against the
policy manual.   The manual says that non-free is for packages

  * whose copyright permission notices (or patent problems) do not
    allow distribution and copying for profit, no matter how large or
    small the amount is, or
  * where distribution is restricted according to the medium used, or
  * where the distributor must ask any kind of special permission of
    the authors, or
  * with other onerous conditions,

The "with other onerous conditions" criteria is a catch-all which
might or might not catch the Win32 package, depending on what's
considered "onerous".  The other conditions, however, all concern
themselves specifically with impediments to _distribution_.  It
seems a bit inconconsistent to catch-all a package into non-free
over issues not related to distribution conditions.

There's a passing comment under "Further Copyright Considerations"
in the policy manual which seems to support my understanding that
the purpose of non-free is to segregate out packages which have
specific impediments to _distribution_:

     Programs whose authors encourage the user to make donations are fine
     for the main distribution, provided that the authors do not claim that
     not donating is immoral, unethical, illegal or something similar;
     otherwise they must go in contrib (or non-free, if even distribution
     is restricted by such statements).

There's also a catch-all in the criteria for placing packages in the
contrib category.  Contrib is said to include packages
   * which fail to meet some other policy requirements

It's a judgement call.  In the absence of a specific problem with
_distribution_ of the package, I'd put Win32 either in the main 
part of the Debian distribution or in contrib, depending on how
severe I judged the conflict between the license terms and the
debian policies.  I wouldn't put it in non-free unless there was
a copyright problem for CD manufacturers picking it up and redistributing
it as part of a Debian distribution.

Incidentally, I did a quick survey of installed packages on my
system for restrictions or conditions on commercial use or
distribution, and found the following cases which look to me
as if they might be questionable:

>From /usr/doc/copyright/patch:
 * This program may be copied as long as you don't try to make any
 * money off of it, or pretend that you wrote it.
(CD manufacturers try to make money off redistributing it)

>From /usr/doc/copyright/mbasfnt:
  General permission for use and non-profit redistribution is granted.
  Commercial use is generally granted, if a reference copy of the
  product using this material  - for use by the Rechenzentrum
  of the Ruhr-Universitaet - is received.
(Distribution on a for-profit CD isn't  non-profit redistribution.
Commercial use (and redistribution?) needs specific permission.
This seems sort-of like the Win32 situation, where there's a restriction
on commercial use (but just by direct Cygnus competitors).   mbasfnt
puts a small condition all commercial users, and it may put a restriction
on for-profit redistributors - I'm not sure how to read this.)

>From /usr/doc/copyright/procmail:
  You are encouraged to distribute this package freely.  This package is
  however not to be sold (minor transfer costs excepted) or included in
  any commercially sold software package (if you want to do this anyway,
  contact me (address below), and we'll work something out).
(CD manufacturers try to make money off selling it -- more than just
recovering minor transfer costs if it's a for-profit business for them.
Sounds like something needs to be "worked out.")

>From /usr/doc/copyright/texlib:
  % General permission for non-profit usage is granted.
  % For commercial usage contact CELEX at the above address.
  % Copying of this file is only permitted with inclusion of
  % this copyright notice and with these same restrictions.
(Is Debian distribution on a for-profit CD "commercial usage"?
Whether or not for-profit redistribution is "commercial use",
though, commercial end-users need to contact CELEX.  CELEX may
or may not give permission for the commercial use when contacted.
That's sort-of like the way commercial Win32 end-users who are
direct Cygnus competitors would need to contact Cygnus and work
something out if they want to use Win32.)

I don't have a very complete installation, and my quick survey missed
many Debian packages.

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