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Re: If Debian decides that the Gnu Free Doc License is not free...

[Subject line shortened and cc: list cut down]

On Mon, 2003-04-21 at 08:08, Hans Reiser wrote:
> I find it unspeakably ingrateful to Stallman that some of you begrudge 
> him his right to express his (discomforting to some) views to all who 
> use his software, and to ensure that they are not removed by those suits 
> who are discomforted.

I, for one, am not ungrateful for the contributions that Richard
Stallman and you -- Hans Reiser -- have made.

If, however, you are saying that Debian can only use your work on the
condition that Debian becomes your mouthpiece, then I find that an
unacceptable demand.  No gratitude is due for software that comes
with such conditions attached.  Such a tainted offer should be
politely declined.

(By the way, I don't think that "suits" have a lot of influence over
what happens in Debian.  Debian developers are concerned, above all,
with making a free operating system.)

> As far as I am concerned, I have no desire to have ReiserFS distributed 
> for free by anyone who removes the GNU manifesto or similar expressions 
> from Stallman's work (or my own) and redistributes it.  It is simply a 
> matter of respect that is due the author.

Respect is due; but it is up to Debian to decide how to show respect.

The central question is this.  If you are not satisfied by Debian's
show of respect, what are you going to do about it?

Consistently with freedom you can write to the Debian maintainer,
complain on a mailing list, and so on.  Fine.  Hopefully an 
accommodation can be found.

If, on the other hand, you assert a legal right to be shown respect
in a way that you determine, then it becomes clear that your work
is not DFSG-free and so not distributable by Debian.

> ReiserFS will be converting to the Gnu Free Doc License for its 
> documentation. 
> I look forward to the release of GPL V3 which will hopefully cover fair 
> crediting of code as well as documentation, and stem this rising tide of 
> plagiarism and political bowlderization by distros.

I think it is altogether reasonable to require that the authors
of software be credited.  However, it must be up to Debian to
decide how to give that credit.

Bowlderization is the removal of content from works.  The issue
there is freedom of speech, not software freedom.  Free speech is
indeed important in all areas of life.  Debian should not interfere
with anyone's freedom of speech.  Notwithstanding this, Debian's
role is not that of soapbox for politically active programmers.
So, while Debian might choose to distribute this or that text
(unbowlderized!) as a service to its users, IMHO it should not under
any circumstances allow itself to be *compelled* to distribute any
text verbatim, no matter how attractive the software to which that
text is attached.  An exception is made for license texts.

DFSG 4 determines how far Debian can go to accommodate an author's
demand that his or her code be distributed unchanged.  Yes, Debian
will agree to distribute the original code, but only if the code
can be patched for building.  So, in the case of mkreiserfs: Yes,
Debian will agree to distribute the original code with its
excessively verbose credits message, but only if the message can
be omitted from the running program.  Out of respect for the
authors, Debian should also include the message in the doc directory
and under --version.  But if I were the maintainer I wouldn't go
any further than that.

> I want the same visibility of credits for reiserfs that movies
> give for their actors.  I don't want the distro choosing how
> they are displayed because some distros do things like create
> boot time splash screens that tell about themselves instead
> of the authors, and so I have to say that their track record
> demonstrates that they cannot be trusted with that task.
> I think the authors should be the ones to decide how to list
> the credits.  Any end user should of course be free to delete
> all the credits he wants to.

It is becoming clearer that your software is not DFSG-free.

Thomas Hood <jdthood0@yahoo.co.uk>

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