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Re: PHPNuke license

On Wed, Mar 05, 2003 at 05:39:23PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> David Turner <novalis@gnu.org> writes:
> > OTOH, the Affero bit is staying AFAIK, and I hope that Debian can accept
> > that.  We had a discussion on proper interpretation of #3 brewing, and I
> > would be happy for it to brew some more (although I'll have to take off
> > my FSF hat, of course).
> By "is staying", do you mean that the decision is made and nobody can
> say anything about it?
> The reason I dislike the "Affero bit" is that it is a further
> restriction on freedom.  I stand for freedom.  I like freedom.  I
> learned about freedom from RMS, but he has apparently decided that
> freedom is no longer all it's cracked up to be.  Is there any value in
> complaining about the "Affero bit", or is the FSF just going to insist
> on this?
> As with the FDL, this is very like an anti-flag burning rule.  I
> believe in the values that the American flag supposedly stands for
> (freedom, principally), and accordingly I would not engage in flag
> burning.  Those who want to ban flag-burning want to take away freedom
> in the name of preserving a symbol of freedom.
> Similarly, the FSF seems happy to take away freedom, in the name of
> preserving a certain political message.  Even though I wholeheartedly
> *agree* with the message, I find it repugnant to be told that a
> reduction in freedom is the way to spread it.

<Branden's atheist ass rises from the pew>


> Moreover, in the case of the GFDL, the requirement has noxious
> consequences.  For example, it prevents one from taking the text from
> an allegedly free manual and using it for some very different
> purpose.  I would not be able, for example, to turn the Emacs manual
> into doc strings.  Indeed, if the GFDL spreads, and more people add
> invariant sections, then there is a horrible effect if I want to make
> a manual out of bits and pieces of a hundred different manuals.  I
> would be forced to distribute gobs and gobs of invariant sections,
> perhaps totally out of proportion to the manual I want to make.

Completely agreed.  I fail to see how the arguments in:


can apply to the 4-clause BSD license but not the GNU FDL.

> I have yet to hear the FSF say anything but "that particular freedom
> isn't very important, and getting our message out is very important",
> which sounds really like a concession that the point I (and others)
> have made is a very good one, and the FSF is simply content to
> sacrifice freedom, but unwilling to tarnish its name by actually
> saying so honestly.

My own opinion, to be frank, is that RMS is afraid he's losing the meme
war to Eric Raymond, and feels that this is tactical compromise for
strategic benefit.  If so, then I think he overestimates OSI's
influence.  I think the concepts that the FSF stands for are *winning*,
not losing.  It's just that the champions of the status quo aren't going
to give up without a fight, and only now that they are seriosuly
threatened are they pulling out the big guns.  I do not, however,
believe that it is acceptable to compromise with "unfreedom", even in
the short term.  Freedom is something people learn to live without as
long as they've got their potato chips and reality TV.  RMS understands
this perfectly -- as the historical account holds, he watched his
friends at the MIT AI Lab fritter away practically all of the freedom
they had for the sake of Mammon.

Future licenses from the FSF should be guaranteeing us more freedom, not
less.  Else, why shouldn't most people just accept whatever Sun, SCO, or
Microsoft have to offer?

> And I don't think bringing up honesty is unfair.  The FSF solicited
> public comment on the GFDL, and promised to make a summary of those
> comments available.  As far as I can tell, that promise was a
> bald-faced lie.  If nothing happens soon, then the comments may just
> find their way to the public eye despite the FSF's apparent
> embarassment. 

Hang on, before someone from the FSF gets defensive -- Thomas, please


I can understand, however, why you weren't aware of these developments.

G. Branden Robinson                |    The basic test of freedom is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    perhaps less in what we are free to
branden@debian.org                 |    do than in what we are free not to
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    do.                  -- Eric Hoffer

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