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Re: PBS License

Please don't interpret this as an attempt to take sides in the Thomas Bushnell
vs. John Galt flamewar; I think it's best that I keep my opinions to myself and
not get involved in such things if I can avoid it. I will say (like a
politician, I know) that I have respect for both sides, but also (unlike a
politician) that I could come up with legitimate (in my opinion) criticisms for
both sides as well.

On Tue, Jul 17, 2001 at 06:27:44PM -0700, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Now, rather than go round and round with some anonymous person, I will
> simply say:
> All Debian developers who have looked at the license think it's fine.
> (Unless I've missed a message; someone should speak up if so.)  Some
> anonymous person has an objection to it that no Debian developers
> concur with.  

Just a small point that has only a small relevance to your point (which, again,
I am taking no position on): John Galt is not anonymous, but pseudonymous. In
order for someone to be anonymous, there needs to be no name by which one can
identify him or her. By contrast, anything that John Galt writes can be said to
be by John Galt, and we all know who that is, even though we don't know John's
legal name. Therefore the name serves as an identifier, and so the person is
not anonymous. Since the name is false (or at least, not official), he is
pseudonymous. It's a linguistic detail, but it has significance, in that he is
not an "Anonymous Coward" (to misuse a Slashdot staple) unwilling to associate
his identity and reputation with a statement, diminishing its credibility by
such a refusal. Instead, he has an identity that is John Galt, and he has a
a reputation that is John Galt's, even if they are separate from the identity
and reputation which are associated with John's "real" name. He would likely
care enough not to damage this reputation, since it is what he uses exclusively
online, and even to some degree with friends. (Correct me if I am wrong, John.)
Therefore if John's reputation is damaged, he will either have to build a new
identity from scratch or reveal his real-life one if he does not wish to have a
damaged reputation. Neither of these options is particularly appealing.
Therefore, John has a reason to remain consistent and credible in his own
opinion so that he is taken seriously and treated with respect (flamewars
aside). Since there is thus very little difference between the behavior online
of a pseudonymous person and that of a person whose name is known, then I
believe it fairest to conclude that his opinion should have as much weight as
that of a person whose legal name is known to Debian.

Now, if you are arguing that people who are not Debian developers should be
ignored completely or in large part, that is a different position. I agree that
final decisions should be made by Debian developers, but other members of the
Debian community who are knowledgeable about relevant law (or about general
legal principles) often have useful things to say. For example, I can think of
some useful things that John Galt has said in this thread (but I'd prefer not
to mention them so as to stay out of the flamewar). Of course, Thomas, you have
said useful things too. Even if he hadn't said such things, it would still be a
good idea to have people like him trying to say useful things so that they can
be educated by those who know, and then so that they can become part of the
Debian legal community.

I do not feel it is right to exclude Debian users and other community members
from public discussions simply because they are not Debian developers. (In the
concept of exclusion I am including discouragement from participating.)

I believe my Mail-Followup-To: is set accordingly, but as usual for me, please
CC me on replies, even though I do read -legal and am subscribed.

- Jimmy Kaplowitz

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