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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

On Fri, Apr 30, 2004 at 01:07:05AM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> * The license text must be distributed unmodified for legal reasons *even*
> if it is available under a free software license.

I've tried to make a distinction here, between "license texts" and "license
terms".  License terms are the terms under which a work is licensed, typically
expressed in a license text.  It's possible to freely permit modifying a
license text, while not permitting modification of the terms works are under.
This is essentially "you may modify this license text, as long as you don't
claim that this work is under those modified terms", which seems similar to
"if you modify this program, rename it" (which is a restriction that is
generally allowed under the DFSG).

I think allowing the restriction of license terms is straightforward--terms
are meaningless if they can be modified freely.  I think an exception for this
is similar to other permitted restrictions, like "don't remove my name".

In fact, I suspect the GPL almost meets this: off-hand, the two requirements
for modifying the GPL are removal of the preamble and renaming.  I think
the renaming requirement is DFSG-free.  Minus the preamble requirement, one
could modify the GPL (to the "MyGPL"), as long as you don't claim that a
program released under the GPL is under those modified terms.

All that aside, I tend to agree that requiring DFSG-free license texts is not
worthwhile or practical, and I don't believe that should be used as a wedge
to extend exceptions to things like fonts and firmware; if we want to treat
fonts in some way differently than /bin/ls, that's fine, but I don't think
the license text argument is a good starting point.

Besides, the only problem I see with fonts and firmware is DFSG#2--"do we
really want source for these things; do we even know what their source is?"--
which isn't relevant to the licensing exception at all (which is more

> * Debian is not in the business of distributing license texts; if it were
> not for legal requirements, Debian would not distribute any license texts. 

I'm not sure I agree with this.  Debian distributes the bible (bible-kjv-text);
why not licenses?  I suspect that a package of license texts would be
permitted, if somebody wanted to package it.

Glenn Maynard

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