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

On Thu, Jun 12, 2003 at 08:54:17PM -0400, David B Harris wrote:
> On Thu, 12 Jun 2003 16:21:35 -0500
> Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> wrote:
> > Comments?
> One thing I don't think that's entirely clear is about the labelling of
> your changes. The GPL specifies that you must put a notice in a given
> file detailing the date and nature of the changes.
> Such may or may not be considered part of the copyright notice, and I'd
> like to see point #3 amended to say that the license may require notices
> of modification within the source material should it be redistributed.
> Or however you want to work it in :)

I thought of this when writing my little essay, believe it or not, but
left the point unaddressed.

Since you wasted no time in picking up the point, I'll go ahead and
utter my heresy:

I do not regard works licensed under the GNU GPL as purely free, either
under the FSF's definition of Free Software, or my derived definition of
Free Works.  The GNU GPL makes certain, fairly limited, compromises with
pure freedom[1] to achieve its ends.  RMS has said stuff like this for
years, so maybe it's not so heretical.

Without (in my opinion) placing much emphasis on the point, I think he
feels this way about the GNU FDL as well.  He knows full well that it
takes freedoms away, even in ways that the GNU GPL does not.

While I'm uttering heresies I'll also say that I think clause one of our
Social Contract is poorly worded[2].  It steers people towards the concept
of "100% purity" when what it really means is that we try to ensure that
each and every package in our distribution satisfies our guidelines for
Free Software.  I think the "100%" business can mislead people into
thinking that each package is or can be some sort of paragon of virtuous

[1] Yes, yes, some BSD bigots have been saying for years that the GNU GPL
actually "takes freedom away" because it takes away one's freedom to
charge a million bucks for a binary and keep the source code secret.  I
find this observation about as astute as the one that says libertarians
and (most) anarchists don't really advocate freedom because they don't
think people should be left free to coerce and defraud each other.
Given that concept of "freedom", the observation is perfectly true,
perfectly accurate, and perfectly useless.  Maybe BSD bigots are
actually solipsists, and that is why they keep kicking people out of
their Core Teams ;-).

[2] Actually, I went on record three years ago or more as saying that
other parts of the Social Contract are poorly worded as well, so there.
If you're going to bash me, you're late to the party.

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       Extra territorium jus dicenti
branden@debian.org                 |       impune non paretur.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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