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Re: REVISED PROPOSAL regarding DFSG 3 and 4, licenses, and modifiable text

On Sun, Dec 02, 2001 at 09:04:09AM +0000, Sunnanvind wrote:
> If it's the number/percentage that's the problem, we could just say "a 
> small amount, depending on the character of the invariant material" which 
> would mean we wouldn't even have to be consequent. A license text could 
> be very long, while a manifesto would have to be of more reasonable 
> lengt. Which could very well be decided case by case on fiat or whim /as 
> long as we know it's okay to do so/, i.e. it's written somewhere.

I don't think we should *encourage* reasoning by fiat or whim (else
people will ask us why don't do so somewhere else when trying to get us
to do something we don't want to do, and we'd better have something
better to fall back on for *why* don't use fiat and whim in the
situation they're asking about than fiat and whim themselves; of course,
irrationality needs no rational justification to exist, but it doesn't
necessarily make people want to work with you).  Sometimes it's a
regretful necessity.

"Because I said so" is a tiresome explanation to hear (though the world
will never run out of people offering it).  When one has to make an
arbitrary decision, it's best accompanied by an explanation of the
factors that led to it.  With my arbitrary limit of 32k (or whatever)
in my proposal, I have offered such an explanation.  Like most arbitrary
limits, it can't satisfy everyone.  Hence the flexibility discussed in
the "Background" section.  The proposal is made in hopes of *reducing*,
not increasing, the net number of distinct arbitrary decisions that get
made about packages and the DFSG.

A well-chosen arbitrary limit will:
1) Be sufficiently low as to not violate the intent of DFSG 3;
2) Be sufficiently high as to let most "unobjectionable" packages that
   have to be evaluated under this criterion into main;
3) Be sufficiently low as to encourage authors/licensors to not get
   carried away with large amounts of invariant text.

These properties do presume that the freedom to modify a work is held as
a value.

Sure, we could throw out the 32k limit and invite everyone to decide for
himself what's reasonable.  (I'll bet you'd find a lot of invariant text
in main that way.  If you package something for Debian, you tend to want
it in main.)  Or we could empower some shadowy, unaccountable person or
cabal to make licensing decisions for us, and hand down their wisdom
from on high.

Better than both of the above, I think, is to be open, honest, and frank
about our criteria.  Abitrary decisions will be held against us more, not
less, if we leave them undiscussed, unexplained, unjustified, and
unaccounted for.

G. Branden Robinson                |      Mob rule isn't any prettier just
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      because you call your mob a
branden@debian.org                 |      government.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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