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Re: Mass bug filing: Cryptographic protection against modification

Theodor Ts'o wrote:

>Hence, standards bodies that state that out of policy reasons, if
>someone wants to make a non-interoperable version of a protocol, they
>should start from scratch and not be able to leverage the existing
>work of the protocol specifications, are in many ways making the exact
>same argument about why it is "necessary" to prevent someone from
>using the GPL using it as a base, possibly stemming confusion in the

But the GPL is modifiable. The preamble isn't. Yes, it would be nice if
the preamble was.

>So tell me again why the GPL text should be privileged?

Because without us distributing it, we can distribute no GPLed works.
This would make providing a Linux distribution rather difficult. Yes,
this is hypocrisy. We arguably should alter the social contract to say
"Debian will remain entirely free (except for two or three text files
that we're required to distribute in order to actually be able to
distribute any software whatsoever)", but it's not entirely clear how
that would actually benefit anyone. 

Reality currently requires that we distribute around 1K of unmodifiable
GPL preamble in order to be useful. That 1K buys us a lot. 1K gives us a
modifiable kernel and a modifiable basic userland. We could relax our
principles a little further and get a bunch of unmodifiable text files,
but the payoff is much smaller. I think the line's in the right place
now. In the end, even Debian is occasionally forced to bow to
pragmatism, and I think the GPL case is one where we have no choice. In
contrast, I don't think the GFDL/firmware/whatever cases are.

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.devel@srcf.ucam.org

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