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

On Fri, Jun 13, 2003 at 09:15:26AM -0400, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:
> > I personally have advocated a fifth freedom:
> >
> > 5) The freedom to retain privacy in one's person, effects, and data,
> >    including, but not limited to, all Works in one's possession and
> >    one's own changes to Works written by others.
> I think (though I'm not sure) that I agree with what you're trying to
> do, but I don't like using privacy as its basis[1].  Reasonable people
> can disagree, of course, but I think it's important to understand that
> privacy and the free flow of information are competing values, and the
> optimum is some point between either extreme that maximizes other
> social values.

I don't find your observation objectionable; I have been wrestling with
a sound philosophical basis for my "instinctive" feelings on this

As long as the goal is met, I'm not particularly enamored of grounding
freedom 5 on the concept of privacy.  It probably shouldn't be grounded
explicitly on *any* political principle, since people can have differing
value systems, yet agree on this particular point.

I do not seek to establish an orthodox politcal theory for the Debian
Project, just a broad definition of "freedom" for the things we
distribute, and upon which we can fall back when the DFSG fails to
anticipate a problematic licensing issue.

> To give a concrete example, accurate attribution of changes (e.g., a
> changelog) is a good thing because is strengthens the social
> structures that keep Free Software working, yet it's clearly a limit
> on privacy, albeit relatively minor.

Yes, David B. Harris raised the same point.

> I'd say that there are two ideas implicit in the desert island test,
> and neither of them are really about privacy:
> * The only two parties involved in the exchange of Free Software are
>   the distributor and the distributee.  Requirements that arbitrary
>   third parties play a role can not be met if that third party isn't
>   on the desert island.  I think of this as symmetry.


> * That the distributee isn't required to give any sort of
>   consideration to the distributor.  If the distributee finds the
>   software on a note in a bottle (or perhaps on a computer in the ship
>   that crashed on the island) he should have all the necessary rights
>   to the software.  I think of this as not requiring consideration.

Yes; I've been yammering for a couple of years at least about adding a
"No Consideration in Exchange for Rights Under this License" clause to
the DFSG.

> I think both of these are somewhat controversial, though.

I hope not.  Your points seem quite cogent to me, and, I think, reflect
my personal instincts pretty clearly without dropping the politically
explosive term "privacy" into the equation.  With luck that's true for
many other Debian developers as well.

Thanks for elucidating this issue.

> [1] Much as I dislike the guy, I find I agree with Brin in that making
>     privacy into a fundamental right is likely to be more damaging
>     than helpful to society.

I haven't read Brin, so I'll leave this remark to others.  :)

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |           If ignorance is bliss,
branden@debian.org                 |           is omniscience hell?
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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