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Re: Final Draft: Interpretive Guideline regarding DFSG clause 3

On Fri, Dec 14, 2001 at 01:56:44PM +0100, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> The DFSG was not written or intended to be an automated mechanism
> which you apply to a software and you get "yes" or "no" as output.

Agreed; it's a manual mechanism which you apply to a work and you get
"yes" or "no" as output.  "A suffusion of yellow" or "if you meet the
Buddha on the road, kill him", is not meaningful output when it comes to
evaluating software licenses.

Thus I supplied an interpretive guideline instead of, say, a Perl

> The idea that clause 3 has anything to say about the status of
> copyright notices or licenses shows how detached some people appear to
> be.  It's completely up-side down:  As if the DFSG says anything about
> what Debian should require or what not.  It's the other way round:
> The DFSG is a declaration of what Debian requires about software.  If
> you now detach the DFSG and try to read it without the Debian people
> behind it, and force the interpretation back to Debian, you indeed get
> absurd results.

This accusation is cleverly worded but utterly groundless.  Unless, of
course, you think the people who have been participating in this entire
discussion, and those who have and will continue to be packaging
software for Debian, and those who will be reviewing licenses before
accepting packages into the main section of our archive, aren't "Debian

> In this context, the only interesting thing we need to discuss is: what do
> we do about non-technical, invariant sections that are not copyright notices
> or license texts that apply to the work.

It's been discussed to death.  Some people want to be able to include
megabytes upon megabytes of invariant non-technical sections in main.
Others don't.

> Your proposal started out with an attempt to address this issue, and
> was now narrowed down to a proposal that includes almost nothing at
> all.

I think it makes an important clarification.  Some people seem to be
wresting with the meaning of simple language like "we promise to keep
the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution entirely free software" and "the
license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them
to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original

My proposal is an acknowledgement of how the Debian Project actually
applies the DFSG in practice.  It can also serve as a roadmap for how
people may want to amend the DFSG in the future, if they strongly wish
to see arbitrarily-sized exceptions to DFSG clause 3 in main.

There is only so much my interpretive guideline can do with the existing
language of the DFSG.  If you want to see more drastic action taken, you
know how the Standard Resolution Procedure works.

G. Branden Robinson                |    I've made up my mind.  Don't try to
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    confuse me with the facts.
branden@debian.org                 |    -- Indiana Senator Earl Landgrebe
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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