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Re: Bug#200411: www.debian.org: confusing description of non-US sections

On Tue, Jul 15, 2003 at 09:16:30AM -0500, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 14, 2003 at 11:42:09PM +0200, Matt Kraai wrote:
> > On Mon, Jul 14, 2003 at 09:15:01PM +0000, Brian M. Carlson wrote:
> > > On Mon, Jul 07, 2003 at 09:59:34PM -0700, Matt Kraai wrote:
> > > > -    <dt><em>Non-US/Main</em> and <em>Non-US/Non-Free</em></dt>
> > > > -      <dd>These packages cannot be exported from the USA, they are mostly
> > > > -      encryption software packages, or software that is encumbered by
> > > > -      patent issues. Most of them are free, but some are non-free.</dd>
> > > > +    <dt><em>Non-US/Main</em></em></dt>
> > > > +      <dd>Packages in this area are free themselves but cannot be
> > > > +      stored on a server in the USA because they are encumbered by
> > > > +      patent issues.</dd>
> > > Things in main or non-US/main should not be patent encumbered.
> > > non-US/main is designed so that packages can be imported into the US,
> > > but not exported. If it would not fit the DFSG for any reason, including
> > > being patent-encumbered in the US or other places, then it does not
> > > belong in non-US/main.
> > What belongs in non-US/main?  Only software left over from the
> > crypto-in-main transition?
> There have, in practice, been packages relegated to non-US for purely
> patent reasons.  Whether these packages warrant the classification of
> non-US/main or non-US/non-free is a bit of a judgement call.  Since the
> DFSG mainly talks about software licenses, I would question whether it's
> appropriate to speak of patent-encumbered software as non-free when the
> patent holder is not the author.

Patented software does not have to be patent-encumbered (for example, we
have many programs and libraries in both main and non-US/main that use
CAST5 [0], which is patented). Patent-encumbered software would use
things like LZW, which is non-free because of the licensing that is
required to use it. CAST5's RFC [0] states:

  The CAST-128 cipher described in this document is available worldwide
  on a royalty-free basis for commercial and non-commercial uses.

I'd further point out that packages relegated to non-US purely because
of US patents are not usable in the US, which is something that
traditionally non-US/main has been. Also, for example, if LZW had
just a year left to expire on it in the US, instead of in Germany, would
we relegate it to non-US/main? I hope not.

[0] http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc2144.txt

Brian M. Carlson <sandals@crustytoothpaste.ath.cx> 0x560553e7
"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare
 to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it
 after all." --Douglas Adams

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