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Re: xcdroast does no longer work with wodim: Who to blame?

Bill Unruh <unruh@physics.ubc.ca> writes:
> On Sun, 1 Mar 2009, Russ Allbery wrote:
>> Bill Unruh <unruh@physics.ubc.ca> writes:

>>> The license issue is problematic, especially since copyright laws
>>> differ in different countries. Derivative works is an especially
>>> tricky concept since it is so poorly defined in law, and the courts
>>> have been all over the place on it. It would be really really nice if
>>> Debian released Moglin's opinion that they received re the cdrtools
>>> issue and Schilling released his, and Moglin allowed them to do so.

>> I believe that the relevant legal opinion was given to Ubuntu, not to
>> Debian.  I do not believe that Moglin gave a separate legal opinion to
>> Schilling, in private e-mail or anywhere else.

> So Ubuntu shared it with Debian. In that case I see no obstacle to
> making it public. It has already been shared and copied to people not
> the original recipients. I assume the Debian people actually saw it
> before making their decision.

Unless you're a copyright lawyer and want to see the opinion so that you
can render an informed legal judgement based on your own expertise, I
don't see how this accomplishes anything beyond allowing Schilling to
waste even more of the (valuable and, in this economy, endangered) time of
the SFLC.  This is also simply not how lawyers work in the United States;
they do not and cannot offer general legal opinions to amorphous clouds of
people.  They offer context-dependent and situation-dependent legal advice
to their clients and discuss those opinions only with their clients.

Pasting bits of e-mail messages and the like into a public forum for
public debate doesn't add any additional clarity to the legal situation.
It just provides an opportunity for lots of ill-informed non-lawyers who
think they can read the law to nitpick the situation to death.

Of course, I also am not that horribly concerned with the details of the
legal judgement, since I believe Debian should not distribute Schilling's
software regardless of its legality.  I don't believe Debian should
package and distribute software with openly hostile upstreams.  Debian is
a volunteer effort and working on Debian should be fun; having people
abuse you in public fora and threaten legal action whenever you do
something they don't like isn't fun.  To me, this is considerably more
important than the relevant technical merits of different applications;
among other things, in my experience on open source software, the
friendlier project will become technically better in the long run anyway.
But even if it doesn't, I see no reason why anyone in Debian should
volunteer to put up with this sort of ongoing abuse and threats.

If Red Hat wants to pay someone to put up with it, that's their call; it's
a lot easier to be polite in the face of an unending stream of personal
abuse if you're getting a paycheck for doing it.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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