[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [Discussioni] OSD && DFSG convergence

On Tuesday 28 January 2003 08:02 am, Russell Nelson wrote:
> Henning Makholm writes:
>  > Scripsit Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>
>  > > 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 
fighting for.

IMHO, of course,

Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks  http://www.anansispaceworks.com

"Some things are too important to be taken seriously"

Reply to: