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Re: LPPL and non-discrimination

On Sun, Apr 27, 2003 at 03:57:08PM +0100, Jonathan Fine wrote:
> Henning Makholm wrote:
> > Scripsit Jonathan Fine <jfine@activetex.org>
> >
> >>Now to the problem.  Debian guideline 5 states "The
> >>license must not discriminate against any person or
> >>group of persons."
> >>
> >>The proposed LaTeX license defines the Current Maintainer.
> >>The license grants these person(s) privileges that are
> >>not granted to other licensees.
> Some clarification.  Every purchase is also a sale.  Every
> more than is also a less than.  Every discrimination
> in favour of is also a discrimination against.

Okay.  It is perhaps too bad that the DFSG uses "discrimination" in its
pejorative sense, since the word also has a non-pejorative meaning.  If
I cannot discriminate between the roadway and pedestrians, I'd better
not be driving a car.

> > We have a clear tradition on d-l that the non-discrimination guidline
> > only means that there must be some free terms that apply to everyone.
> > It is not a problem of specific groups receive *more* freedom than the
> > norm, as long as everyone has the freedoms described by the DFSG.
> I understand this to mean: provided that for the least privileged
> licensees the other guidelines are met, guideline 5 does not apply.

I think you're missing a lot of nuance here.

The Debian Free Software Guidelines, and our concept of "Software
Freedom" as protected by legal constructs like copyright licenses,
applies to "public licenses".  That is, these are grants of permission
that apply to anyone who cares to exercise them, not contracts drawn up
between two parties explicitly.

A work-as-licensed must not withhold essential freedoms from
interchangeable people.

I'll elaborate after quoting your next statement.

> > It would be absurd to consider one license less free than another solely
> > because it gives more rights to a specific group.
> In my opinion, this is precisely what guideline 5 says.  More exactly,
> it says that a license is not free if it grants *less* rights to a
> person or group of persons.  And every *more* than is also a *less*
> than.

I'm sorry, but I find your extreme egalitarianism naïve.

To interpret DFSG 5 as you suggest:

1) Debian would have to classify as non-free any work with respect to
which the copyright holder or other party terminated anyone's license or
prevented its exercise, *under any circumstances*.

The GNU GPL would be non-free:

  If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
  infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
  conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
  otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
  excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute
  so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and
  any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not
  distribute the Program at all.

So if John Doe "cannot distribute the Program at all", by your
reasoning, he is "discriminated against", because he has "*less*
rights" than other people.

The BSD license would be non-free:

  Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
  modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
  are met:
  3. Neither the name of the University nor the names of its contributors
     may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
     without specific prior written permission.

So if John Doe uses the name of the University of California to promote
his product which is derived from this software, his license is
terminated (or suspended until he cures the breach somehow, it doesn't
matter for the purposes of this argument), then, by your
reasoning, he is "discriminated against", because he has "*less*
rights" than other people who didn't use the name of the University of
California to promote products derived from the software.

2) Debian would have to forbid all multi-licensing under all
circumstances, and would have to brand any work as non-free the instance
we found out that alternative licensing had been granted by the
copyright holder to anyone else under any circumstances.

3) Debian might have to brand all software as non-free anyway, since the
copyright holder already enjoys "*more* rights" than anyone else.  So do
certain members of the U.S. government, especially federal law
enforcement personnel and prosecutors, who routinely violate all sorts
of laws in the course of their functions, and are granted immunity under
laws like the USA PATRIOT act.  Even if Debian did not distribute
anything in the U.S. and had no presence in the U.S., this would be true
because someone in the world would have "*more* rights".

Your thesis is impractical in the extreme, and presents problems
incommensurable with the legal framework of every country in which the
Debian Project distributed software.  If I truly understand your point,
these problems are incommensurable with any legal system whatsoever with
a concept of "rights".

If it is your intension to engage in a critique of the concept of
"rights", please participate in mailing list dedicated to discussions of
political science instead.

G. Branden Robinson                |     Organized religion is a sham and a
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     crutch for weak-minded people who
branden@debian.org                 |     need strength in numbers.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- Jesse Ventura

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