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Re: Proposed: Debian's Five Freedoms for Free Works

On Thu, Jun 12, 2003 at 04:21:35PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> 4) The freedom to change the Work for any purpose[1], to distribute
>    one's changes, and to distribute the Work in modified form.  Access
>    to the form of the work which is preferred for making modifications,
>    if applicable, is a precondition for this.

I find the second sentence here to be prejudicial and
inaccurate. Mostly it leads to debates over what "the preferred form
for modification" is, much like we've had debates over what "source
code" is.

Firstly, it deals with preferences. The problem here is that different
people have different preferences, and it is not inconceivable that
they might prefer different forms for modification. Take a document as
an example; do you prefer latex source, or a word document? Given your
answer, would you contend that everybody shares this preference?[0]

Secondly, it implicitly states, through use of the definite article,
that there is only one such form. This is needlessly confusing, not to
mention often wrong.

I contemplated a few ways to rephrase it, but whenever I tried, I
found myself arriving back at the first sentence again[1]. As such, I
think it'd be best to remove the second one outright; the freedom is
already adequetely described by the first. *Any* form which allows you
to modify the work for any purpose, is good enough.

[0] I can make many more arguments along these lines; in the name of
    brevity, I will refrain from doing so at this time.

[1] "Access to any form of the work that allows you to change it for
     any... oh, damn"

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ | Dept. of Computing,
 `. `'                          | Imperial College,
   `-             -><-          | London, UK

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