Re: [Discussioni] OSD && DFSG convergence
On Tuesday 28 January 2003 08:02 am, Russell Nelson wrote:
> Henning Makholm writes:
> > Scripsit Russell Nelson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > > This seems to be a sticking point with a lot of people. Essentially,
> > > everyone seems to be defending their right to arbitrarily exclude
> > > software from Debian. But that is a right you don't have.
> > We sure do have.
> No, you don't.
[quickly degenerating to "yes it is!"/"no it isn't!" I see ;-D]
But forced labor is considered slavery, and is specifically made illegal by
an amendment to the US constitution. This point has been interpreted under US
law to make many kinds of labor contracts illegal (e.g. there always has to
be an alternate way out of the contract, even if payment has already been
Given that kind of precedent, the context for claiming that a non-profit
group of volunteer laborers can be sued for not doing labor without pay seems
to be illegal to the point of being laughable. I don't think any court in
the US would seriously pursue such a suit.
At most, the court might be persuaded to take away some legal privilege of
that organization. Are you claiming that Debian has such a privilege which
can be meaningfully taken away? If so, can you be specific?
The case might be stronger if the outside party were prepared to incur all of
the labor costs (coding, packaging, and distributing). But anyone can do that
at any time if they like: Debian non-official packages are available at many
sites, even for "non-free" packages. So I don't think you can make any kind
of claim under discrimination laws. Debian doesn't even distribute their
disks -- they let other people do that, which leaves the way open for
companies to produce their own derivitive versions.
"Freedom of the press is for those who have one".
> > I suspect your real agenda is something like: The OSD is not
> > unambiguous enough for the purposes the OSI is putting it to, so you
> > want our help in fixing it. If you had come to us and said, please
> > help us make the OSD better,
> I am willing to see the OSD change to achieve convergence. I am NOT
> willing to NOT see the DFSG change to achieve convergence.
Why does OSI want this? Those who have posted seem to be saying that they
don't see any compelling argument from Debian's side. Maybe, if you were able
to show what your motivations are, it would help to sell the idea.
Volunteers are liable to be extremely distrustful of a "corporate type" who
seems to want *anything* really badly, but won't explain what they get out of
it. They tend to prefer the "We love Bud because they pay us" type of
advertising, if you see what I mean. IMHO, anyway. ;-D
I have a theory about why you want this, which may seem a bit cynical, but
which goes like this:
"If we get Debian to adopt OSD as the DFSG (even if this requires changes),
and they are legally required to include any software released under the
DFSG, then any 'OSI-approved' software will be legally required to be in
Debian, then we can offer 'automatic inclusion in Debian' as a carrot to
corporate developers, thus further promoting 'open-source' in Corporate
Aside from the fact that this would dump the legal responsibility for funding
this (in kind) on Debian, I don't think it would be such a terrible goal.
However, I do not think that any such legal responsibility exists now, as I
point out above, and I think that making it so would require a substantial
commitment of funds (and not necessarily be a good thing).
Indeed, I think the only fair way to do it would be to create an OSI-funded
derivitive of Debian, which takes on the extra responsibilities you want it
to have. If you had to *fund* this, though, I think you'd think twice about
the "guaranteed inclusion" business, and hastily add a few dozen loopholes to
squeeze yourself through. I know *I'd* be scared of it. ;-D
I'm speaking hypothetically of course -- but if this is not your reason,
please clarify or imaginations will run wild. ;-D
On the other hand, "taking Corporate America open-source" is a goal I think a
lot of developers might be sympathetic to. I know I am.
> > But what you actually seem to say is: We have these two documents that
> > except for a few places are identical; please make a lot of changes to
> > yours so that we can have them "converge". That doesn't make much
> > sense to me,
> Would you rather have the current state of affairs, where one group of
> free software developers says the RPSL is a free software license, and
> another says it's not a free software license? I can't imagine
> anybody would think that's a good thing.
Unfortunately, that argument could as easily mean you should adopt the DFSG
*as* the OSD.
I may come off as being violently opposed to altering the DFSG, but of
course, I'm not, and as an outsider, I don't think it's really my job to push
or pull on the issue. But I think you're not really taking the right tack in
arguing for a change.
Personally, I *do* like the relative simplicity of the DFSG, and it *is* a
"guideline" to be refered to in making decisions, not a contract that must be
complied with. I think of it as a checklist to remind people what questions
they should be asking. Whether a few things need to be added to that
checklist or not, is perhaps open territory, though. But even after making
changes, it doesn't seem reasonable that it should become the OSD, and even
if it did, it doesn't seem reasonable to commit to keeping it in synch.
You can't harness joy, you can only nurture it. Debian is all about a labor
of love, and I think it needs to stay that way, or we'll lose the thing we're
IMHO, of course,
Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.anansispaceworks.com
"Some things are too important to be taken seriously"