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Re: Free Pine?


I am comfortable speaking for the group at large when I say we appreciate
your advice and input on this matter.  I myself appreciate the ends you're
trying to accomplish here.  Nevertheless, the methods you're using to go
about this cause me to question whether or not your means justify your
ends.  This message exemplifies my concern, so I shall respond to it
directly rather than making vague half-accusations.

On Thu, Aug 31, 2000 at 02:46:40PM -0600, Richard Stallman wrote:
>     I've an outstanding, unanswered question which I've sent to UW in a
>     related context (IMAPD): what specific clause of the copyright is being
>     violated, when modified versions are distributed.
> Their position was that the words "permission to copy, distribute and
> modify" do not grant permission to distribute a modified version.  In
> other words, they say you can distribute the software, and you can
> modify the software, but you can't modify it and then distribute the
> result.

If memory serves me, I do indeed recall reading a message forwarded to
this effect.  The issue I am seeing rests with those words, which Debian
and indeed you yourself have accepted those words and at least half a
dozen variations of them as free software.  Someone at UW decided to tell
you that the license didn't say what it said.  Based on the language and
your interpretations of that language in all contexts not related to
software written by UW, I have to conclude that it is your belief that
regardless of their stated position, the license itself is free (if
perhaps not the clearest of wording...)

>     I think that, until we get a decent answer, this should be the question
>     asked by anyone who gets a threat under these conditions: ask what
>     specific terms of the license are being violated.
> You may never get an answer from the U of W, because right now the U
> of W can achieve its goals by saying nothing.  If they have the
> feeling that you will let the issue slide if they let it drop,
> they are likely to let it drop.

Actually, we did get an answer - from Lori (Lori's last name escapes my
memory, but it was the person who sent the message you forwarded) - saying
that what we are doing with imapd is not against its license and if it
turned out that it actually was, we were being given permission to do so.
Of course, if the latter were necessary, imapd would still be non-free
according to our guidelines.  The former appears to be the case in our
opinion, in Lori's, and from what I gather, yours in other contexts.

> However, you now do have an answer to that question, so I hope you can
> proceed to take the appropriate action, and remove IMAPD from Main.

Unless I missed something important (I have had some mail problems in the
past day or two) our answer was that imapd belongs in main.

> The message I forwarded you shows clearly that they treat IMAPD as
> non-free software, that their position is that people must ASK for
> permission to release a modified version, and that the license does
> not give permission.  That message does not give all the details.  It
> makes sense to want to know more about the situation, but it makes no
> sense to let the issue slide unless and until they give you a full
> explanation.  That is not the way to make the DFSG something that the
> users can rely on.
> If Debian decides to reject IMAPD and tells the U of W so, that will
> put some pressure on them to clarify the license.  Otherwise they
> may prefer to leave it unclear in order to to "have it both ways".

And here we get into those means I do not feel justify the ends you're
after.  In order to force UW into the uncomfortable position of admitting
that what you wanted to do with pine is acceptable or telling Debian and
everyone else that UW imapd is non-free, you want Debian to take a
position you do not yourself agree with for purely political reasons.  And
that's what these are---political reasons.  There is no legal problem
here.  And there was no legal problem with pine 3.91 either, regardless of
what they said at the time.

I feel you are attempting to manipulate Debian into fighting a political
battle for you that may cost at least some of our users in the end.  Call
it taking a stand for freedom or whatever you like, but the software IS
free according to our best interpretations (and according to the
clarification we received from UW..)  I don't see an issue that Debian
needs to pursue here.  There are enough license battles for Debian to
fight as it is (I should know!) and we really don't need to look for
another one over software that everyone agrees is already free.

Trying to get someone to do something by trying to make it sound like what
you want is exactly what they want?  That sounds more like ESR's forté to
me what with all of his jedi-robed Tear Down the (Redmond-based) System
rhetoric and promises of dollar signs to anyone in a suit who pays homage
to a silly little penguin logo.  Freedom is only really freedom if you
make a conscious choice to be free.  Take that away and people quickly
relapse into familiar patterns of accepting what they are given.

So while I respect your goals, I have a hard time respecting your position
on this issue.  If you had written a message in which you came right out
and said what you thought, what they've said both then and now, and
suggested we decide ourselves whether or not this was a battle we wanted
to take up, I probably would have been far more impressed by your
directness instead of annoyed with your careful words and I dare say FUD.

This rant was paid for by the following:

The rest of the world is of course entitled to their own opinions which
they may (and most likely will) express on their own.  Slippery when wet.
This message is free, but probably isn't software unless you can find a
compiler for it.  Considering that I wrote it, you might have trouble
finding even a good interpretter.  The author disclaims everything and
anything.  Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.  Caution, coffee
is hot!  By reading this sentance, you agree that it in fact is a sentance
and also that it is funny.  Hukt awn foniks wurks fer mea!  Do not look
into laser with remaining eye.  Do not adjust your TV set.  This paragraph
makes no sense except that about five people who read it will be slightly
amused.  Deal with it.

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org>               GnuPG key 1024D/DCF9DAB3
Debian GNU/Linux (http://www.debian.org/)         20F6 2261 F185 7A3E 79FC
The QuakeForge Project (http://quakeforge.net/)   44F9 8FF7 D7A3 DCF9 DAB3

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