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Re: FilterProxy and DFSG-compliancy?

Colin Watson [cjw44@flatline.org.uk] wrote:
> Bob McElrath <rsmcelrath@students.wisc.edu> wrote:
> >You *may* use FilterProxy (or some derivative) to implement censorware.
> >(Note that you would have to fork, since I wouldn't have anything to do
> >with it)  By my license, however, the censorware cannot be applied
> >without the knowledge and consent of the users of the proxy.  I think
> >this is reasonable.
> It's not that I disagree with the sentiments. I happen to agree with
> them - but this is completely beside the point. The point of making
> software free is that I do *not* impose my personal feelings about how
> people should use my software upon the users.

My definition of "freedom" (this is personal) is basically that you can
do whatever the hell you want to yourself, with yourself, and with
consenting adults.  Inflicting upon others coercion or harm is where
one's freedom ends.

Note that this conflicts with current US law, most religions, and the
DFSG.  But the world would be a very nice place if we could all adopt
this sinmple principle and just "get along".  ;)

> Had I been writing FilterProxy, I would have considered there to be no
> problem with including a rant in the package, perhaps in a README file -
> a strong recommendation that people don't apply the software without the
> knowledge and consent of the people using it, or a statement that you'll
> ignore support questions from people applying it in such a way, or
> whatever. But the principle has to be that, if a user wants to use a
> piece of software in a way incompatible with the author's beliefs, they
> are free to do so.

Well expressing my opinions is all fine and dandy, but in the long run,
doesn't mean squat.  Also note that I would be surprised to see any
legal battle initiated by a free software author, over usage of his
software.  We're just too poor.  ;)

> Elsewhere, you compared your restriction to that in the GPL, saying that
> it was fine for the GPL to make sure that software wasn't restricted so,
> by extension, it was OK for your licence to make sure that network usage
> wasn't restricted. The problem with this is that the restriction in the
> GPL is a restriction only on distribution, not on use, and it is
> intended partly to maintain freedom from restrictions on use. Once a
> user has acquired a piece of software, they *must* be able to do
> whatever they like with it. 

So how does the GPL itself not violate the DFSG?  Taking GPL code,
modifying it to suit your purposes, and distributing binaries (no
source) for profit is a "field of endeavour" (#6).

How does restrictions on how one *uses* the code not constitute a usage

For that matter how is language choice not a discrimination against
persons (#5).  If you don't have Visual Basic on your system, you can't
run VB apps, and that constitutes discrimination against you.  (would a
VB code never be allowed by DFSG?)  What about languages like
Objective-C, for which there is a free compiler, but the user might not
have it.  Isn't this discrimination too?

What about not having documentation in Hungarian?  Doesn't that
discriminate against Hungarians?

#5 and #6 are ambiguous...

> The nightmare alternative is that every one of the thousands of pieces
> of software on your system has a different little restriction on how
> you're allowed to use it, half of which you happen to agree with and
> half of which you don't, and you've got to keep track of all of them
> or risk being sued.

Yep, that would be a pain.  Which is why Debian requires things in main
to be uniformly licensed, and why FilterProxy belongs in non-free.

I don't disagree with the DFSG, nor the reasons behind it.

-- Bob

Bob McElrath (rsmcelrath@students.wisc.edu) 
Univ. of Wisconsin at Madison, Department of Physics

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