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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

On Fri, Apr 30, 2004 at 03:09:18PM -0400, Michael Poole wrote:
> I want to distinguish between software and other data because I prefer
> to use English in a precise way, and because I think that is
> consistent with the broader usage[1].
> [1]- See, for example, http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-doc.html

During the GFDL debates, I lost faith in the FSF with respect to
documentation: they appeared willing to compromise documentation freedom
readily, if they thought it would further "free programs".  I found that
reprehensible.  I wouldn't be surprised if they, too, were trying to
redefine "software" to suit their needs.

> That does not mean that software freedom should be the only freedom
> that Debian pursues, but it does not help to pretend that Free
> Software is the same thing as Free License Texts or Free Reference
> Documentation or Free Speech.

It does not help to pretend that Free Software is not the same thing as
Free License Texts or Free Reference Documentation or Free Speech.

Not very convincing, is it?  :)

Let's ignore the definition of "software" for a moment, and back up to
the more important issue.  (We're probably not going to come to an
agreement on "software", anyway.)

I've seen a lot of strong, compelling arguments that programs, documentation,
fonts, images, sounds and bibles be held to the same standard of freedom.
I've seen very little to support the argument that they should not.

The only convincing argument for a categoric exception (that is, an item
which should not be held to the DFSG at all) I see is license texts, and
that's purely a pragmatic issue.  It's an extremely difficult task to
convince people to license their stuff[1] under a DFSG-free license; it'd
be even harder to convince people to license their licenses in the same
way.  (It's even difficult to discuss comprehensibly.)  Some people have
expressed vague disagreement, but I don't think anyone is arguing seriously
against this.

The only other convincing issue I see is how the first part of DFSG#2 is
applied to things like fonts and firmware: where we draw the line between
needing source and not, how we determine what the source form is, and so
on.  (I don't have an answer to this, and I havn't yet seen one proposed.)
I only see a DFSG#2 issue here.

I've seen several people, particularly on debian-legal, suggest that
documentation should have different standards of freedom than programs,
requests for a "DFDG", and so on.  (If I remember correctly, RMS was
among them.)  I've yet to see any interesting arguments in favor of this.

If you have one, I'd like to hear it.

[1] yes, I'm avoiding the word "software" for the moment.  :)

Glenn Maynard

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