[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Legal questions about some GNU Emacs files

On Mon, 28 Apr 2003, Alex Romosan wrote:

> > * 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

The large issue is "what will Debian distribute?".  The only guidelines we
have for what we can and can't distribute is the DFSG.  While it was written
with software in mind, the concepts do cover other items of interest fairly
well.  Without a specific "Debian Free Non-Software Guidelines" to the
contrary (which would be created by voting, as you mention) the Debian
Project has three options:

A) Do not distribute anything not software (oh dear...)

B) Distribute anything that isn't software, as long as it can be distributed

C) Apply the DFSG to everything, because it's the best yardstick we have as
to what is and isn't appropriate for Debian.

I think you're leaning towards B, while the majority of -legal participants
are going with C.  

> 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.

Have you read the draft FAQs and statement of position that have been flying
around recently?  It covers the question of "why apply the DFSG to things
that aren't software?".

> > * 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.

Feel free to propose it.  It would certainly put an end to quite a bit of
the traffic currently on -legal.

> you can't change the DFSG without a vote. we need to decide if

Nobody I've seen is trying to change the DFSG, merely modify what we apply
it to.  Since we need something to define what we consider free in the
non-software field, the -legal beagles (heh) have gone with the DFSG for

> software is the source code + documentation, or if it includes
> everything that we distribute.

If it were decided (by acclamation, GR, whatever) that the DFSG only applies
to items which are by some definition "software", how do we classify
everything else?  A or B in my list above?  Saying "it's not software, so
it's out" will make *everybody* unhappy, I think, but "it's not software, so
we will distribute it" doesn't help too much, either, as per the idea that
"free software needs free documentation".  Free Software without Free
Documentation is severely limited in it's utility.  (I hope you agree with
that, otherwise a large part of my argument dies in the arse <grin>).

#include <disclaimer.h>
Matthew Palmer, Geek In Residence

Reply to: