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Re: My solution (was: My (less-then-important) personal position)

edi@gmx.de (Eduard Bloch) wrote:

> ... I propose to create a rating system:

Something like this has been proposed several times before.  These
schemes have always been rejected in the past as being too complicated,
particularly for something that isn't a part of our official
distribution.  Permission for distributing from an ftp site is fairly
straight forward.  Permission for distributing things on a CD quickly
becomes troublesome.

> First, some packages which very small limitation like in the example
> above may still distributed on Debian CDs. Packages in main/contrib
> should be independent from the state of packages in this (let's call
> it "restricted") section, so if some of the restricted-packages
> contain RC-bugs, this packages and all restricted-packages depending
> on it would be removed. APT would warn the user and show the special
> parts of the license which are not compatible with DSFG. The packages
> has to be maintained by registered developers.

> The second section ("limited-free") is meant to stay on the net or be
> distributed on CD media, depending on distributors will. This would
> contain packages with licenses that allow to redistributed them on
> CDs without control of the author, still gratis available software
> but with serious limitations in the license. This section is not for
> shareware or advertisement/demo products. The packages has to be
> maintained by registered developers.

Distributed on CDs by whom and how?  That is the problem.  Some
licenses allow the software to be given away on CD, but not sold for a
significant amount of money (more than the cost of the CD).

Some licenses are vague.  For example, consider the license that says,
"It may be used and distributed freely provided no commercial profit is
involved."  Clearly, this package may be included on a CD that can be
given away for free, but what happens if Corel puts it on a CD with its
office suite and sells it for $50.  That is unclear.

Currently, if someone wants to place packages with one of these vague
licenses on a CD, he assumes the risk.  Our non-free section is clearly
marked "caveat venditor" (let the seller beware).  If we begin to
separate non-free into different levels (especially if we base our
decisions on such vague criteria as "very small limitation[s]" in the
license), we are going to get into trouble.  It won't be too long before
someone takes one of these packages that we've marked as "almost"
free and violates a term of its license.  Then he will blame us for
improperly advising him that the software was free enough for him to do
what he did.  That is a problem that I would like to avoid.

I would have to agree with our position in the past: the cost of schemes
such as this outweigh the benefit derived.

- Brian

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