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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

On Thu, Apr 29, 2004 at 09:49:15AM +0200, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> Consider a source code file that has Doxygen-style comments intertwined
> with it. Is that file source (i.e., a program), or is it documentation?

That's not particularly complicated: it's the source of both a program
and some documentation.

> Consider a webserver with static pages, but static pages that are full
> of JavaScript. From the viewpoint of the webserver, are those pages
> programs, or data?

The webserver's viewpoint doesn't matter, any more than less's viewpoint
matters merely because it can be pointed at both documentation and files
in /usr/bin.

> Consider the already beaten-to-death horse of firmware. When compiled
> into the kernel, is firmware a program, or is it data?

It's data as far as the kernel is concerned, and a program as far as the
external processor that it's firmware for is concerned. This doesn't
change depending on how it's distributed, and the fact that it is a
program is why it got an explicit exception in the sarge release policy.

> In all three of these situtations, many will argue one; many others will
> argue the other. It is hard, if not impossible, to come up with a
> definition of "programs" vs "data" that is not problematic.

That's okay: we deal with problems all the time. In this case we have
a particularly easy way of dealing with situations that aren't clear:
we say "well, that's a bit iffy, so we've got to say `no'."

The fact that you or I can't write down rules that are precise enough
for a computer program or lawyer to follow deterministically doesn't
mean that we can't do the job anyway.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
Don't assume I speak for anyone but myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

Protect Open Source in Australia from over-reaching changes to IP law
http://www.petitiononline.com/auftaip/ & http://www.linux.org.au/fta/

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