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Re: DFSG Draft #8

Interesting commentary before (snipped).  I fall squarely into the
second camp (believing that we must fight to keep software free),

A key problem, as I see it, is that this DFSG is falling into the trap
of trying to "define by example."  For instance, if I am in a zoo, and
somebody asks me, "What is a tiger?"  I can point out a tiger to the
person.  But that person won't know what makes a tiger unique -- he
may think that a cheetah is a tiger, for instance.  I've merely
provided an example, not some rules.

There is a problem with doing that here, too.  You are, for instance,
providing examples of "change markers" that are permitted (changelogs,
renaming, etc.)  However, a better thing to do would be to have
overall rules.  Rather than listing examples (meaning that it may be
necessary to frequently update the DFSG), it would be better to list
rules about it.  If they're well-formulated, it would rarely be
necessary to revise the DFSG.

This is a key strength with, for instance, the US Constitution and the
existing DFSG.  I am troubled by the use of examples instead of
rules.  For instance, where the current DFSG says:

      The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in
      modified form _only_ if the license allows the
      distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the
      purpose of modifying the program at build time. The
      license must explicitly permit distribution of software built
      from modified source code.

That last sentence is a key point, I don't think I saw it in your

Also missing are some other key clauses from the original DFSG --
License must not be specific to Debian, distribution of license, etc.
Unless I missed these; I've just read your draft once.

Darren Benham <gecko@debian.org> writes:

> Copyright Notice
> ----------------
>      copyright ©1999 Anthony Towns & Darren Benham

Shouldn't this read Software in the Public Interest?

>      This document, in it's source form, exists in DebianDoc format.

That should be "its".

> 2. Freedoms
> -----------
>      1.   _Use_: Anyone must be allowed to use the software in any way
>           without obligation.

I'm not sure what "without obligation" here means.  Certainly I'm not
obligated to use software anyway.

>      2.   _Source Code_: Source code must be freely available if it exists.

Delete "if it exists".  If we have no source code for a program, even
if the code was destroyed and simply doesn't exist, it should still be

>           Source code refers to the form used by the author to make changes
>           to the software.

I like the GPL definition better:

  The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
  making modifications to it.  For an executable work, complete source
  code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
  associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to
  control compilation and installation of the executable.

They go on to state that system include files and the

>              * _Notices of Authorship_: The license may require the
>                copyright, license, and any associated disclaimers be
>                prominently displayed in the modified software or any
>                derived software. The license may require such notices to be
>                displayed: (in order of preference)

I'm not sure it's good to list these; that pretty well covers all the
possibilities anyway.

>              * _Integrity of the Original Work_ The license may use any of
>                the following methods to ensure the integrity of the
>                original work:

This sounds ambiguous....  "The license may use any..."  A license
doesn't use; it stipulates.  You could say, "The license may require
any of..."  But again, naming them makes me nervous.

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