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Re: Respect for Upstream Authors and Snippets of Interest

On Fri, 26 Sep 2003, Barak Pearlmutter wrote:
> Based on long-standing Debian tradition and practice, this is
> decidedly and demonstrably not the case!  Don and others were perhaps
> writing in haste.

Can you provide a concrete example of such a "snippet" which is not
under the licence applied to the entire package by the COPYRIGHT,
COPYING, or AUTHORS file and restricts modification or removal?

I'm aware of none in any of the packages that I package or have looked

> To my knowledge, in all the many thousands of packages in Debian,
> such statements have never been removed!  Even though Debian might
> find such an offer repulsive, we respect our upstream authors enough
> to include them.

Sure, but in all of these cases we have the right to remove them, as
well as the right to modify them. We simply choose not to exercise
that right. In my responses to RMS on this issue, I have repeatedly
stated that we in general do not modify or delete portions of packages
unless we have to.

>> A /non-modifiable/ text could not be included in Debian, a
>> /modifiable/ one would most likely be.
> is a load of hooey.  Inclusion of snippets is not a violation of the
> DFSG.  Such an overly-literal interpretation of the rules is
> precisely why we call them D-F-S-***GUIDELINES***!  Because we use
> common sense in their application.

The right to modify anything except the license and copyright
statement in a package is an important right for our users to
exercise. I mean, we even explicitly list it in the DFSG:

   3: The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must
      allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license
      of the original software.

I'm unaware of us ever saying that DFSG free licences 'must allow
modifications to most of the package' or 'modifications to important
parts of the package.' In the few cases where non-free nuggets exist
in upstream sources, we have removed the nuggets.

Getting back to what I understand to be the crux of your statement, I
am still unable to formulate a decent line of reasoning that logically
argues for the inclusion of unmodifiable 'snippets' whilst increasing
or maintaining our user's freedom to modify the contents of the
package to do whatever task our user's see fit to do. 

If someone could just formulate such a line, I might be willing to buy
into it, but as it stands, I'd much rather have the freedom,

Don Armstrong

"People selling drug paraphernalia ... are as much a part of drug
trafficking as silencers are a part of criminal homicide."
 -- John Brown, DEA Chief


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