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Re: DRAFT summary of the OPL; feedback requested

Don Armstrong <don@donarmstrong.com> writes:
> On Wed, 10 Mar 2004, Jeremy Hankins wrote:

>> This is a serious question: how does "(DFSG 3)" tacked on to the end
>> of a sentence help to explain the issue?
> In the same way that a footnote or reference does.
> It's always appropriate to refer to the basis for a specific claim.

That's not precisely the situation here.  The interesting part of the
claim in a summary isn't that restrictions on modifying make a license
non-free, but that the license restricts modifying.  The summary doesn't
describe the DFSG, it describes the license.

> In
> this case, the claim would be that a particular statement is in direct
> validation of a particular tenent of the DFSG. Since you're claiming
> that it's violating the DFSG instead of being mere legal fooery, you
> should indicate which section(s) of the DFSG is being violated, much
> like you would in any form of discourse.

The DFSG is not a 50-page document.  It should be trivial for someone
reading a summary to look up the specific section if they need that
information for some reason.

What problem are we trying to solve?  There may well be cases where
someone reading a summary would need this info (though I can't think of
any), but is that case frequent enough that we should work to optimize
for it?

> Obviously, those who know the DFSG know which sections are what, but
> it's a service to those who are unfamiliar with the document.

Someone whose not familiar with the document will probably find
"restricts modifications" more useful than "violates DFSG 3".  Even if
you include both, what does the latter add?

>> But thinking that the DFSG delineates a bunch of categories into
>> which non-free licenses can fall is a depressingly common, and
>> absolutely *wrong*, viewpoint.  Reinforcing that notion is a bad
>> idea.
> I'm not so sure that it's a wrong viewpoint.

Do I understand you properly?  You think that the sections of the DFSG
provide a useful taxonomy of non-free licenses?  That would be very
surprising, as I don't believe it was written with that in mind.

I guess we'd have to do a survey of licenses in order to have hard data
to support or deny this idea.  But my sense (based on my experience
reading d-l) is that useful categories of license tend to be largely
orthogonal to the way the DFSG is split into sections.  Licenses don't
tend to neatly and simply fail some section of the DFSG.

> It seems to me that this
> is a conflation of "DFSG as a guideline vs DFSG as a definition"[1]
> and "indicating how the DFSG is used as a guideline."

Not at all.  I think that the idea that the DFSG neatly and simply
captures the ways that licenses can be non-free is very much tied to the
idea that the DFSG could be used as a definition.

> There are licenses which violate specific sections of the DFSG. We can
> use that information to compare licenses and become better at
> interpreting the clauses of the DFSG in an appropriate manner.

Can you give an example, or provide more detail?  I don't see this at
all, unless it's based on the idea that the DFSG provides a good
taxonomy for non-free licenses.

> People will continue to erroneously think of the DFSG as a definition,
> just as people erroneously only read legislation without reading case
> law. Failing to cite references appropriately isn't really going to
> cure this.

No doubt.  But we don't need to contribute to the problem.

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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