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Re: the FSF's definition of Free Software and its value for Debian

On Wed, Mar 05, 2003 at 03:08:46PM -0500, David Turner wrote:
> On Wed, 2003-03-05 at 11:52, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > What do you folks think of my paradigm?  Useful or not?
> I think it's brilliant.

I get nervous when people react so enthusiastically; it makes fear that
I am unwittingly aiding them in the fulfillment of some ulterior
purpose.  :)

> But I think it will not reduce disputes, only metadisputes (like the
> parent thread).

Oh certainly.  I'm just expressing my conception of the framework within
which these licensing discussions take place: "why are we debating these
issues?" and "why is it important that we do so?" -- you're exactly
right, it's a meta-issue.

> Since you've standardized on common law, there's also stare decisis, and
> debian-legal gets to make up tests like the Desert Island and Chinese
> Dissident tests without complaints of legislating from the bench.

Complaints about legislation from the bench typically come from
legislators, anyway; in Debian, any Developer can be a legislator by
proposing a General Resolution (or, short of that, a simple discussion
thread on a mailing list).  And as yet we have no "class" of "judicial
personages", at least not explicitly.  If you participate in this list
and express yourself cogently, you exert influece.  One doesn't even
have to be a Debian Developer to do that.

> I also think it's brilliant, because it means that I won't have to
> metadispute when I suggest again that we look at DFSG 3 compliance via
> the "least restrictive means" / "compelling Free Software interest" 
> analysis that I proposed during the AGPL thread.  

I'm not sure where this is headed (my memory with regards to the AGPL is
short, and I think some discussion may have taken place while I was
knocked offline due to a move and motherboard failure), but I should
stress that what the FSF conceives of as a "compelling Free Software
interest" and what Debian does may not always be in perfect harmony.
But I'm sure you already understand that, so I'm glad you in particular
find my proposed metaphor useful.

I would ask that, *especially* if Debian formalizes my metaphor or
builds upon it in any way, that the FSF not change its definition of
Free Software without running it by us.  :)  Having
<URL:http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/free-sw.html> change suddenly could
come as a nasty surprise.

G. Branden Robinson                |      The greatest productive force is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      human selfishness.
branden@debian.org                 |      -- Robert Heinlein
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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