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Re: Packages with RFCs deleted

[Charles Plessy]
> On the other hand, does the effort of removing these documents from
> the upstream sources has any chance to make things change in the
> future, by either having the IETF freeing the RFCs, or volunteers
> paraphrasing free versions of them?

The fact that Debian cares about licensing issues, and doesn't just
ship random things with random licenses on the theory that the users
won't notice or won't care, very much sets us apart.  It is a real
value-add to many people.  A lot of users appreciate our promise to
read all the licenses so they don't have to.  The moment we decide
that, gosh, we may as well save ourselves some trouble and ship a few
files that aren't actually free to modify and redistribute, users will
no longer be able to trust us to do that, and they'll be back to
reading long and boring license texts for themselves, just to determine
what they can and can't do.

Also, refusing to ship these "harmless" things raises the visibility of
the issues.  I often get into arguments where a potential user
somewhere says "WTF, Debian doesn't even ship RFCs [or Sun Java, or
Schilling's cdrecord], what stupid and pointless ideology".  When I
start to explain which freedoms we promise to our users that these
things do not offer, one of two things happens.  Often the user will
say "I don't care about those freedoms anyway", or words to that
effect.  But sometimes ... sometimes the user will say "Whoa, really?
You mean I can't write my own document, cutting and pasting from an
RFC, and distribute it outside the IETF process?" and as I explain
further, suddenly we have a user who notices, for the first time, that
the RFC (or Sun Java, or whatever) actually _does_ restrict their
rights in a way they might actually care about.

This happens often enough that I'm convinced that a lot of users would
care a lot about DFSG freedom if only they were aware of the issues.
Debian's policy has the side effect of bringing visibility to the
issues, to educate these users, and I think it is a good thing.  Even
if it isn't the primary purpose of the DFSG.

Peter Samuelson | org-tld!p12n!peter | http://p12n.org/

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