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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

Anthony Towns wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 26, 2004 at 02:56:50PM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:

> You can point at Bruce -- who hasn't been actively involved in the
> project, again for almost as long as I've been around -- and what he
> thinks all you like, but I really don't see how you can have failed to
> have noticed that we've _never_ had a serious policy of applying the
> DFSG to docs.
And people have been complaining about that as soon as they noticed, too, as
far as I can tell.  Screwing up should not be precedent, given how much of
it there has been.

>>  (you know
>>  this we3ll, since you were aware of the discussion in legal where all
>>  this has been long spelled out): The license texts are indeed special
>>  cased, since they determine our right to distrivbute the software in
>>  the first place, and in no way hinder the ability to modify and
>>  distribute mods to the packages in Debian.
> That's nice. Why do you think it's okay to make special cases like that?
> Why is it okay for you to make special cases because it's convenient
> for you to violate the social contract, but why does it show "a lack
> of support for a free OS" for me to act on my best understanding of the
> social contract

Perhaps because you didn't listen to everyone else's best understanding,
which was given quite carefully and with great detail, over a long period.

There is some justification for the license text special case, which was
actually hashed out in great detail:
* Without the GPL, Debian really *wouldn't* be usable.  (Unlike all these
other cases.)
* The license text must be distributed unmodified for legal reasons *even*
if it is available under a free software license.
* Debian is not in the business of distributing license texts; if it were
not for legal requirements, Debian would not distribute any license texts. 
Thus license texts are much like the US export control rules; a stupid
hoop, rather than an integral aspect of Debian.
* Ideally, Debian should distribute the GPL *along with* Debian, rather than
in Debian, as this would clearly satisfy the Social Contract (the Debian
system, once installed, does not depend on the presence of the GPL).  This
would correspond with the common practice of distributing licenses
alongside programs rather than in them.  However, this faces technical
hurdles which have not yet been solved.
* License texts are isolated in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright files
and /usr/share/common-licenses; it is easy to identify these potentially
non-free items.  Accordingly, the current technical implementation actually
already deals with one of the main goals of separating out non-free items.
* "Legal texts which are present only because they are required to
distribute another work" is a clear, isolated category easily
distinguishable from anything else.  Unlike "programs", "documentation",
* Most people seem willing to wait while these hurdles are dealt with. 
Still, it would be much better to have a GR explicitly allowing legal texts
which are present only because they are required to distribute a work in
Debian.  This one would actually change the meaning (to conform to

> and not be a fascist about documentation licenses, and,
> if we're going to make up special cases out of thin air, why shouldn't
> someone come along and say "this social contract thing is nonsense,
> let's add some SCO licensed code and start making money" ?
>> > Violating the social contract -- doing something it explicitly
>> > forbids -- is different to not fully achieving the goals it implies,
>> > of course.
>> Well, in my eyes, you were already doing the former (since I
>>  thought that it was obvious that the SC applied to everything on the
>>  CD). I realize now that what was obvious to me was not so for
>>  everyone else.
> You know, people keep asking for me to say more stuff, but whenever
> I do, they just ignore it. Why do you imagine I kept saying that the
> Social Contract only applies to "software", ie, "programs", everytime
> the issue of documentation came up? Because I like the look of my own
> pixels or something?

You were saying something which made no sense, although it seems to have
been a disturbingly common view.  The Social Contract said "Debian will
remain 100% Free Software".  Not "The software in Debian will remain 100%
Free Software".  If "software" == "programs", then anything which is not an
program must not be part of Debian.  

Perhaps you were advocating considering those things to be not 'Debian'? Yet
if they're completely intermingled in 'main', in the same packages, not
isolated in any way, how can you even tell what's part of Debian and what

And how about the problem of determining what's a program and what's not? 
Did you have any standards for that?  TeX is considered a programming
language, and texinfo is a dialect of it, so how do you justify counting
anything written in texinfo as 'not a program'?

People have raised these issues to you before.  You never gave a good

Debian-legal discussed them for a long time, and came to the only reasonable
conclusion: "software" in the Social Contract has the broad meaning, not
the narrow meaning.  We got confirmation from Bruce Perens as to what he
meant.  We ran straw polls.  We explained the issues to people and
convinced even more.

You stated that the DFSG had never been considered to apply to non-programs;
yet in the very same thread you pointed to, I found Joey Hess (I think)
stating not only that it did, but furthermore that some people were
attempting to "revise history" to make it appear that it didn't!  And
nobody disagreed with him!

Now, of course, perhaps the Social Contract *should* apply only to programs,
and other stuff should still be in Debian.  If so, why hasn't *anyone* made
a GR to make it actually *say* that?  It's a simple change!  Having a
Social Contract which quite clearly says something other than what it means
is not a good thing!

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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