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Re: Inconsistencies in our approach

On Thu, Aug 07, 2003 at 07:56:21PM -0500, John Goerzen wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 07, 2003 at 04:52:52PM -0500, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > standard does not change the standard), the key difference is that we
> > can choose not to distribute the RFCs.  Technically we /can/ choose not
> > to distribute copyright notices and licenses, but as a pragmatic
> > concession to copyright law, we opt for a non-empty distro instead. ;)

> Can I take this, then, as an admission that we willfully distribute non-free
> software in main, and intend to continue doing so, because we perceive a
> lack of alternatives?  (In the form of, for instance, public domain
> software)

To the extent that licenses should be considered software here, yes.  I
do, however, disagree with your characterization of this as a double
standard, and with your claim that these arguments relate to the
importance of GPL software.  This is not my argument at all; I'm arguing
that licenses are different because they're not part of the *content* of
the OS, and with the exception of public domain software, it is
*always* mandatory that we distribute them -- unmodified -- with the
software, regardless of the terms of any such meta-license governing the
creation of derivative works of the license text.  This means that, if
you really want to take the modifiability requirement to its most absurd
extreme, no software is DFSG-free unless the license *as shipped with
the software* can be freely changed; otherwise, every package that we
distribute under the terms of a software license includes an invariant

But there is a bright line between requiring modifiability of a
package contents, and requiring modifiability of a package's legal
metadata.  In contrast, documentation and programs are both package
contents; no one has yet identified the bright line to use for
demarcation of these two categories.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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