[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Mass bug filing: Cryptographic protection against modification

On Thu, May 06, 2004 at 09:33:23AM -0400, Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> Funny that, the standards communities make the exact same argument
> about why you can't take a standards text, modify it, and then publish
> it.  Even if you change the name, it causes major interoperability
> problems --- what if there were ten different versions of the http
> protocol out there, all with different standards documents "blessing"
> them as legitimate?

> Hence, standards bodies that state that out of policy reasons, if
> someone wants to make a non-interoperable version of a protocol, they
> should start from scratch and not be able to leverage the existing
> work of the protocol specifications, are in many ways making the exact
> same argument about why it is "necessary" to prevent someone from
> using the GPL using it as a base, possibly stemming confusion in the
> marketplace. 

> (Your arguement that if someone could modify the a copy of the GPL and
> hence modify the terms under which the kernel is distributed is
> laughable, by the way; just as a contract doesn't change if someone
> attempts to modify a paper copy of the contract, changing a copy of
> the GPL would not change the terms under which existing code is
> licensed.  The only argument for why it is "necesssary" that license
> texts should be unmodifiable is to avoid confusion --- which is
> EXACTLY why some standards bodies don't want randoms dicking about
> with the definition of the http protocol, for example.)

> So tell me again why the GPL text should be privileged?

It is "privileged" precisely because license texts are irrelevant to our
goal of distributing a freely modifiable OS.  We distribute programs,
scripts, documentation, images, fonts, boot sectors, firmware,
dictionaries, and other fine software because we want it to be useful to
people; and because these things are useful to our users, our Social
Contract compels us, possibly to varying degrees, to ensure that they
are also freely modifiable if they are included in Debian.  I have,
however, never seen anyone actually argue that Debian should distribute
a package of licenses -- they simply aren't useful to our users in their
own right.  We distribute them *solely* out of need (the need to comply
with the software license in many cases, or at a minimum the need to
document the licensing status of the work), so it doesn't really matter
whether the license text is free or not -- even if all the license texts
we had were freely modifiable, it would not make *one bit* of difference
to what we actually distribute, or to what gets distributed by those who
build upon the Debian system.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: