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Re: Legal questions about some GNU Emacs files

Matthew Palmer <mjp16@ieee.uow.edu.au> writes:

> * Debian is about freedom.  There are a set of guidelines which define
> freedom as Debian sees it.  This is the Debian Free Software Guidelines. 
> Expand the name a little, if you like, to the Debian Free What We Will
> Distribute Guidelines.

and that's exactly the problem. when the debian free software guidelines
were adopted the whole discussion revolved around source code not what
we will distribute. now some people come along and are trying to
change the definition of what software is. a friend of mine came up
with the following definition for software (while we were discussing
this very thread):

  software can consist of documents.
  software can be generated from documents.
  software can depend on documents.

  so if it isn't code, and it isn't used to generate
  code, or doesn't affect the build and run-time of a
  program, then it ain't software.

  that should be simple enough.. 

i agree wholeheartedly with the above definition. we (the debian
developers) need to discuss what software is before removing anything
already included. you can't extend unilaterally the definition of
software to justify your personal political agenda.

> * If a creative work, encoded as a stream of bits, is to be
> distributed with Debian, the licence for it's distribution must
> comply with the DFWWWDG, whether it is software, documentation, a
> painting, or an interpretive dance.

there you go. you are attempting to supersede the DFSG with DFWWWDG
without any discussion among developers or a vote. if such a
resolution passes then you can do whatever you want with your
distribution (i don't think i would want to remain a debian developer
in that case).

> * Whether it is useful or not as a DFWWWDG-free item is not at
> issue. If it is not free as we define it, Debian will not distribute
> it.

we, as debian developers, haven't defined this yet. once upon a
time we agreed to distribute only free software (where software was
understood to be source code). now a vocal minority is trying to
extend this to everything in the distribution. i say let's have a vote
and see if it passes.

> This is the basis of Mark's argument as I understand it. You've
> chosen to quote one little part of it, in the preamble, and attack
> that as though it were the basis of his argument. Bah, I say to
> thee.

i quoted what i considered to be a representative part of the message,
namely that everything is software. i oppose that point of view and i
don't think the original intent of the DFSG was to define everything a
software, only the source code.

you can't change the DFSG without a vote. we need to decide if
software is the source code + documentation, or if it includes
everything that we distribute.


| I believe the moment is at hand when, by a paranoiac and active |
|  advance of the mind, it will be possible (simultaneously with  |
|  automatism and other passive states) to systematize confusion  |
|  and thus to help to discredit completely the world of reality. |

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