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Re: [prePROPOSAL] DFSG (draft 7)

gecko@benham.net wrote:
> Isn't that pretty much where Ian started?  The document has it's current
> form more because the draft is written in sgml and that's the way
> debiandoc2text formats it.  The other format change was seperating the
> "give this" from the "it's ok to require this" parts.

Please do fix the format, though.  It's not at all suitable for such a
short document.  The DFSG is our flag and banner, and I don't want to
sail under an ugly flag.  I'd vote against it for the format alone.

> The current DFSG attpemted to spell out what was and was not acceptable.
> It' left a lot of holes.  We're trying to close them, yes, but this isn't
> supposed to be some binding contract.  This should be a clear statement.
> That way, software developers can tell easily where they stand with Debian
> if they do "foo" in their license.  The number of questions that crop up
> on -legal (and added to the traffic of the other lists before -legal was
> created) should indicate that the DFSG could be more clearer.

I still think it would be a much better idea to fix these holes with
incremental amendments to the DFSG, so that the effect of each can be
carefully considered.  It took us more than a year to discover all the
ramifications of the DFSG.

If we replace the whole thing, we'll have another year of little
surprises.  And the project has become more legalistic since then, so
it will be harder to just ignore the effects that don't make sense.
At least the DFSG is so vague that no-one can insist on following its
literal words.

If the number of questions about licenses are a problem, then
we could just start a license FAQ.  For example, the "without fee"
question pops up regularly.  That's something that no amount
of DFSG drafting will clear up.

> > 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.
> Again, it's *not* an attempt to be legalistic.  The opposite, it's an 
> attempt to be clear.  Clearer than the current DFSG.

I like the G, in fact.  Sure, it's a bit silly to use phrases like
"... does not comply with our guidelines".  But calling them
Guidelines at least allows us to make sane judgements about weird
license clauses that aren't covered by them.

Richard Braakman

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