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Re: [prePROPOSAL] DFSG (draft 7)

On Sat, Feb 20, 1999 at 01:53:02PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:

> Yes, I do know the answers to all these. But you do have to know a
> fair bit about what's going on to come up with them, and the answers
> don't particularly satisfy everyone. The draft DFSG that Darren and
> I are working makes these issues clearer, in my opinion, but at the
> expense of making the guidelines themselves longer. I don't see this
> as a bad thing.

I appreciate your work in trying to improve the DFSG, but I have some
misgivings about the whole enterprise.

1. The original DFSG was widely lauded, being clear, fairly
comprehensive, and to the point.  It is now used as the definition for
Open Source software, and accepted by many others as a good litmus
test of freedom.  Maybe the new one would reach this level of
acceptance, but I highly doubt it.  Most people are pretty happy with
the current DFSG.  If there are problems, why not just change the few
things that aren't ok?

2. If you are going to try and come up with a more or less legal
document, that really does attempt to spell out everything you can or
can't do, you should retain the services of a legal professional
(unless you have some law training that I don't know about).  You
should then refer questions about particular licenses to the
aforementioned legal professional.  If we want to have a 'real' legal
document, let's do it properly.  RMS did this for the GPL.

3. You should probably give up the G in DFSG, as these no longer seem
guidelines, but a more precise, legalistic attempt to define exactly
what free software is and isn't.

4. Most people want free software to:
  A. come with sources
  B. be freely distributable
  C. be freely modifiable
  D. be freely distributable in some modified form

That's it, basically - if you start loading that down too much, people
are going to just ignore you.

I'm sorry to have been rather harsh in ways, as it's evident that a
lot of effort has gone into this, but I think it's a misguided effort.

David N. Welton               |   Fortune rota volvitur - descendo minoratus
davidw@prosa.it               |    alter in altum tollitur - nimis exaltatus
http://www.efn.org/~davidw    |        rex sedet in vertice - caveat ruinam!
www.debian.org - www.prosa.it |        nam sub axe legimus - Hecubam reginam

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