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Re: OSD && DFSG convergence

Scripsit Simon Law <sfllaw@engmail.uwaterloo.ca>

> 	The OSD appends the following text:
> Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there
> must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more
> than a reasonable reproduction costpreferably, downloading via the
> Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in
> which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated
> source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a
> preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

Which, I think, is irrelevant to Debian - as soon as something is
actually included in Debian, there will automagially be such a
source-code distribution point, namely Debian's network of ftp

If language such as the above were to be included in the DFSG, the
most immediately meaningful interpretation would be that the upstream
author must have provided net access to the source *prior* to its
inclusion in Debian. This would have the undesirable effect of
rendering DFSG-nonfree pieces of software for which the Debian ftp
master *is* the canonical point of distribution. Say, boot-floppies
(or whatever the installer is called these days) or dpkg/apt.

> DFSG 10:
> 	The OSD removes the grandfathering clause and substitutes:

> No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual
> technology or style of interface.

(Just for the record, I do not agree that DFSG is a grandfathering
clause). The OSD language is too opaque for me to understand. What
does it mean? Which kind of licenses is it intended to

> 	Public domain software that is unlicensed does not have the
> protection of copyright law.

Or, another interpretation that leads to the same conclusion: Since
there has not yet been enough time for any computer software to pass
into the public domain naturally [1], any software that *is* public
domain will be so by the force of an explicit declaration from the
author that he considers it PD. That explicit declaration effectively
constitutes a license. It can reasonably be subject to the DFSG, which
it will pass with flying colors.

[1] Such a thing probably won't happen until at least 2030 or so, and
    we'll have to wait until well into the 2040's before we can have
    much hope of such software being compilable on a Debian system
    without a porting effort that'd incur its own copyright

I.e., not a problem for now (and, unlike the y2k thingey, this is one
it seems to be sensible to leave to be solved when it actually arises).

Henning Makholm                        "Ligger Öresund stadig i Middelfart?"

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