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Re: snippets

On Tue, Sep 30, 2003 at 01:06:37PM -0600, Barak Pearlmutter wrote:
> Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:
> > Unless you can find some evidence in the -private archives that the GNU
> > Manifesto was specifically mentioned and a conclusion reached, I
> I do agree that history, and precedent, and the practices of others,
> are a weak guide.  But we should not ignore them entirely.
> In any case, you're trying to put the burden of proof on the "snippets
> are okay" view.

Yes, because that's where it belongs in a world where "intellectual
property" law has such a long reach and the penalties for infriging it
are so grevious (almost as bad as the penalties for possessing an ounce
of proscribed stimulant in the U.S.)  But see below.

> But you would agree, I hope, that we do have lots of
> snippets, and that no one has ever had a problem with or objection to
> them before.  Since not purging them is current practice, the burden
> of proof really is on you to show a compelling reason for purging
> them, instead of just retaining the relaxed attitude about them that
> we've had to date.
> If it makes you feel any better, we could call it "don't ask don't
> tell", in that we won't go on a snippet witch hunt, but we also won't
> encourage snippets or even really talk about them.  That would be my
> preference.

I fail to see how this argument substantially differs from the one I
already made:

  If the minutae and desiderata are truly unimportant then we cannot
  insist that they loom large in anyone's consciousness.  Perhaps people
  were aware of them, but because they shared your implied premise that
  they are unimportant, excluded them from their deliberations of the
  impact of the Social Contract and DFSG.

  I see no reason we cannot scrutinize minutae and desiderata on an ad
  hoc, case-by-case basis.  If they're unimportant, they're unimportant.
  Let them remain so until someone makes them important.

  This is very close to the same argument I made in the PennMUSH thread.
  In that situation, people have made reasonable efforts to track down all
  copyright holders and establish their intentions.  We (Debian) believe
  the upstream maintainers have been as diligent and careful as we can
  expect them to be under the circumstances.  We therefore do not insist
  that every line of source code be associated with some corresponding
  affidavit of origin and licensing.  We can reasonably have a good-faith
  belief that we are not infringing anyone's rights or privileges.  We may
  turn out to be wrong, in which case we will have to act.  But until
  then, why should we sweat details on behalf of an offended party which
  we have no reason to believe even exists?

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       kernel panic -- causal failure
branden@debian.org                 |       universe will now reboot
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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