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Re: plagiarism of reiserfs by Debian

In chiark.mail.debian.devel, Hans Reiser wrote:

>Feel free to make the credits more CPU efficient, reformat them to fit a 
>screen, animate them, anything that adheres to the academic attribution 
>spirit of respecting those who contributed years of their lives at the 
>cost of substantial reductions in their lifetime incomes so that users 
>(I don't care in the least about distros) could be free to modify the 
>code, and the poor able to afford the same information infrastructure as 
>all the rest of us.


This code partially funded by DARPA, SuSE, MP3.com, bigstorage.com and others

would be entirely acceptable to you? The reason for removing that code
is that giving a lengthy discussion of the intricacies of every single
bit of funding is something that users don't need to see, and makes it
harder for them to find the relevant information. There is no desire to
remove credit, merely a desire to increase the usability of the software
within the terms of the license.

>If you want to add attributions (perhaps mentioning the inventors of 
>balanced tree algorithms, etc.), or add a statement that Debian feels 
>the listed persons didn't deserve the credit and somebody else did, I 
>will respect any honest endeavor in that regard (and maybe even use the 
>improvements in the crediting in what we distribute on our website).  
>Simple deletion is hard to respect though. 

That's a personal opinion. However, the GPL explicitly allows such
modification of code. You're free to relicense code that you hold the
copyright to under a different license that forbids this - however,
Debian will probably regard that license as non-free, which would be a

However, usually we /don't/ choose to exercise that freedom. Recently
there was a discussion regarding whether a note in a GPLed application
suggesting that users should buy the author's commercial derivative
should be removed or not - the concensus opinion was that it shouldn't
as it was a simple, unobtrusive note. The removal of the reams of output
from mkreiserfs was for usability purposes, and if you'd contacted the
maintainer to request that he add a note crediting those responsible
then he'd probably have done so.

>You'll note that the changes don't significantly affect me (as long as 
>it is called ReiserFS I am getting at least my share of credit).  It 
>mostly affects all persons other than me who aren't getting their fair 
>share of credit as it is.

Giving people due credit doesn't generally require 24 lines of output.
That's a *screenful*.

>Academia, while it respects the right to modify knowledge, has never respected
>  failures to attribute, and hopefully most of you do not either once it is
>  brought to your attention.

Academia, in general, only requires attribution in an unobtrusive
fashion along the lines of (Reiser, 1999). Journals do not permit the
author section in a paper to provide information about off-hand
discussions the author had with their lawyer.

>I wish Stallman would hurry it up with GPL V3.  He probably wishes 
>people were gentlemen enough that it would not be needed.  He does not 
>spend much time with marketeers wearing suits and counting brand 
>presence in dollars I think, sigh.  I really did not expect this from 
>Debian of all distros....  You should not imitate RedHat in this.

If you want people to engage in a specific subset of the activities that
your license allows, choose a license that restricts what's allowed to
that subset rather than pretending to give people freedoms you don't
want them to use.

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.devel@srcf.ucam.org

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