Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free, Draft 2
On Wed, 7 Jun 2000, Stephen R. Gore wrote:
> Dale Scheetz wrote:
> > We have resolution control via our Constitution, but I would suggest that
> > that "Constitutional" apparatus does not have the authority to modify The
> > Social Contract which predates it.
> Debian Constitution
> 4. The Developers by way of General Resolution or election
> 4.1. Powers
> Together, the Developers may:
> 1.Appoint or recall the Project Leader.
> 2.Amend this constitution, provided they agree with a 3:1 majority.
> 3.Override any decision by the Project Leader or a Delegate.
> 4.Override any decision by the Technical Committee, provided they agree
> with a 2:1 majority.
> 5.Issue nontechnical policy documents and statements.
> These include documents describing the goals of the project, its
This is very creative reading. "Issue documents" is not the same thing as
"Modify founding principles".
Attempting to use this clause, issuing a statement that the Social
Contract is no longer valid, as written, but is superceded by the current
document is certainly possible under this constitutional interpretation.
However, this sounds a lot more like a "Credit Card Contract" where the
"buyer" has no rights of enforcement and is not the aggreement I signed on
to when I accepted The Social Contract.
Debian has made a social committment, in the form of the Social Contract.
I am opposed to modifying these terms mearly because we find them
difficult to accept within the context of software purity. Most of the
packages in non-free aren't even "proprietary" in the usual M$ sense of
the word, but are only slightly less than free for a wide range of
reasons. The fact that it is "free enough" to post in our archives space
puts it a long way ahead of the rest of the "proprietary" pack.
Both the M$ license and the GPL draw their legal authority from the
Copyright. The decissions about what kind of license software may be
released under are those of the copyright holder (normally the author) and
are each appropriate within their own contexts. This clause in the
contract recognizes the author's freedom to choose how to distribute his
work, and provides infrastructure that supports our user's freedom to make
up their own minds about using software that we consider less than free.
The value of our non-free, over Red Hat's "contrib", is that all packages
in non-free are under the control of a Debian developer. It is that
developer who decides the importance and usefulness of the software he
packages, and it is on his authority that the package is accepted into
non-free as something useful to our user-base. This resolution would
remove the infrastructure, forcing those developers to find other homes
for their work, or stop maintaining the package. This doesn't seem like an
improvement in our freedom to me.
> relationship with other free software entities, and nontechnical policies
> such as the free software licence terms that Debian software must meet.
> They may also include position statements about issues of the day.
> 6.Together with the Project Leader and SPI, make decisions about property
> held in trust for purposes related to Debian. (See §9.1.)
This just convinces me that this is clearly not a Constitutional issue.
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