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Re: OSD && DFSG - different purposes

On Wed, 2003-03-05 at 22:27, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Sure, but so far the OSD has taken a fundamentally different tack from
> everyone else doing free software.  By getting into the game of a
> "definition" and a rigid test for what is and is not free, a massive
> amount of very valuable flexibility was sacrificed.

Which is, of course, part of what frightens me about OSI and the OSD in
the first place. The fact that someone can actually claim to have "the
community's definition" and be taken seriously is a grave problem. If we
can't get rid of that idea then we had better make sure that our views
are reflected in it.

Of course, I may be completely off-base on how seriously the OSD is
taken by the industry at large.

> If, therefore, OSD-free gets written into some law granting special
> patent rights to free software, say, then that's something that we can
> all live with quite happily.

You are assuming that the use of the definitions won't be inverted.
Suppose that laws, like the DMCA, begin to state that certain licenses
that don't have "viral properties" are OK for free patent use but things
like the GPL aren't. It would cause us to have to reevaluate non-free in
a radically painful way. That's a far-fetched example but I'm sure
someone could create a more frightening and realistic one with some

> Debian doesn't *have* a definition.  

Well, we call it a guideline but I'm not sure I see a difference.

> What is the competing standard, though, to Debian's?  Does Red Hat use
> the OSD?  SuSE?  I'm not sure that any other major software
> distributions even *have* something as formal as the DFSG.  

Yes. I don't believe anyone has the level of committment we have to a
Free system. It would be commercial suicide. Happily, the only way we
can go out of business is for people to stop volenteering.

Ean Schuessler                                      ean@brainfood.com
Chief Technology Officer                           214-720-0700 x 315
Brainfood, Inc.                              http://www.brainfood.com

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