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Re: The Helixcommunity RPSL is not DFSG-free

Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com> writes:

> Do you think the RPSL fails the "in contact" test?  Certainly the
> Bitkeeper license does.  But more to the point, the law does not
> expect the impossible of you.  If you have made every effort to comply
> with the terms of a license, and anyone can see that it is impossible
> for you to do so, a judge isn't going to hold you to that term.  The
> common law has a lot of common sense in it -- much more so than the
> legislated law, which has the DMCA &etc.

Judges certainly can do this.  A license may certainly say "if you do
X, you can copy, otherwise not".  People who are unable to comply with
X, don't get to copy.  The law does not say that as long as you try
your best to comply with the license, that counts as compliance.
(Moreover, copyright *is* legislated law; there is no "common law" of
copyrights, though there is "judge-made law"; perhaps that's what you

>  > > Besides which, the net effect of all that "deployment" language is to
>  > > say "If we can find out that you shared it with some people, then you
>  > > have to share it with everyone."  If the mechanism of the sharing is
>  > > such that it's kept a secret, then you don't have to worry about
>  > > sharing it, nor the consequences of not sharing it.
>  > 
>  > Well, that's not what the license says, is it?
> Sigh.  And that's not what the DFSG says, is it?  The RPSL complies
> with what the DFSG says, but as we've determined heretofore, the DFSG
> actually says anything y'all want it to say.

The DFSG is not a promise to software writers that if they comply, we
will distribute their software.  It's an internal (and imperfect)
guide to help Debian decide what meets our notions of free software.

You've gotten the same answer N different ways about how Debian goes
about making this decision.  

In any case, the RPSL does not meet the DFSG.  Number 3 says that it
must be possible to distribute a modified version under the same terms
as the original software, and a contract that requires a significant
amount of extra labor for the distribution of a modified version
doesn't count.  The GPL requires clear identification of changes,
which is fine, but the RPSL requires making them "publicly".

Note that the RPSL says that distribution of the original can happen
in secret, telling nobody any details of what you are doing, but the
RPSL doesn't permit the distribution of a modified version under the
same terms.


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