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Re: Request: Source for parts of GNU/Solaris

On Tue, Nov 08, 2005 at 11:56:32PM -0600, Bill Gatliff wrote:
> >And, I mean, seriously: using the threat of legal action to make people
> >remove free software from the Internet? Whose side are we on here?
> No.  The threat of legal action to stop the theft of Free software.  Big 
> difference.

First, "theft" isn't an appropriate term to use about copyright violations
-- you're not depriving anyone of their use. Don't buy into the FUD.

Second, not only are they not depriving anyone of the software, they're
working to make it available, at no cost, to a wider audience -- those
people who'd like to use dpkg, but aren't willing to give up dtrace eg.
For some people, making source more widely available is a bad thing --
it undercuts their monopoly rights to distribute the source, and thus
the business model that funds their development.

For free software developers, there's no such business model though,
all it does is undercut the amount of software available for Linux but
not Solaris, and the ability to say "this library isn't GPL-compatible,
so you can't link it with the GPLed executable". Other examples of
that are Qt (historically), OpenSSL (currently), and possible (future)
proprietary extensions to things like gcc.

However the CDDL'ed libc is *not* a proprietary extension -- it's free
software available under terms very similar to (1) and (2) of the GPL.
The problem is a technicality, not a moral or practical difference from
the GPL's expectations: you still have the source to OpenSolaris libc,
and you still have permission to modify it, redistribute it, sell it, etc.

> Erast hasn't done *anything* to address or even acknowledge the CDDL/GPL 
> compatibility issue.  His system as currently implemented clearly 
> depends on linking CDDL works with GPL works.  The authors of the 
> software he's distributing with his system haven't given him permission 
> to do that.  Quite simple, actually.

"For every complex problem, there is an answer that is short, simple
and wrong."

BTW, a more accurate claim would be "I haven't seen Erast do anything
to address the issue". Maybe you've got a right to see everything Erast
and his colleagues do, but I'd bet you don't actually get to.

> To be fair, I must admit that I'm not a DD and I don't hold copyright to 
> any of Erast's software.  But I believe strongly in the way Debian does 
> things, and I use a *lot* of Debian software in my work.  So I justify 
> my participation in this thread based on my interest in protecting 
> Debian's interests.

Debian's interests are in the promotion of free software, not the
promotion of highly technical legalistic parsing of copyright rules and
licenses. If there weren't any copyright, Debian would still exist, and
philosophically we'd be encouraging the release of source code and be
advocating against treating source code as a secret.

The above is fundamentally a distraction from our goals -- it's an
important one, because we like to play by the book rather than pretending
to be above the law, and since copyright does exist helping people use
it effectively in accordance with our goals is useful; but Debian's not
about IP rights, it's about free software.


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