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Re: Social Contract: Practical Implications

On Sat, May 08, 2004 at 11:14:01PM -0400, Raul Miller wrote:
> On Sat, May 08, 2004 at 08:09:25PM -0400, Michael Poole wrote:
> > main; I do not see why license texts should be exempt from the current
> > DFSG.
> They are not exempt.
> They are also not programs.  So, the additional constraints the DFSG
> puts on programs do not apply to licenses.

"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."

This does not say "everything but license texts", or even "programs" (a
word which is used in some other clauses of the DFSG).  It's a a violation
of the DFSG for a license text--as a text, not a set of terms-to be

I'm perfectly willing (for what my will is worth :) to push unchangeable
license texts aside as a reasonable exception that's not worth spending time
on, or to see somebody pass a GR to make an explicit exception to them.
However, they clearly fail the DFSG when it's applied to them.

(end license text discussion; begin DFSG thoughts)

You mention the word "program" in the DFSG.

I think the use of the word "program" in the DFSG is unclear.  We clearly
apply DFSG#3 to all software in the archive--it doesn't mention "programs",
and the new GR explicitly applies it.  However, many other clauses of the
DFSG use the word "program" (instead of "software")--so many that I doubt
the original author was considering the difference (not that the original
intent is that important).

The recent GR makes it clear that we're to apply the DFSG to everything
in Debian.  Are we really going to start nit picking the use of the word
"program" in the DFSG, just like people used to nit pick the use of the
word "software" in the Social Contract?

Do we really think DFSG#6 "must not restrict anyone from making use of the
program in a specific field of endeavor" should only apply to programs, so
a documentation license that forbids use in military training would be
considered free?

I think the only reasonable thing to do is to read the word "program" in
the DFSG as "software".  The words aren't synonymous, but to do otherwise
would be ignoring the result of the recent GR and the new SC text, bringing
seven DFSG clauses into question.

The only case where I think there may be actual value in the distinction
is the source requirement: whether we want to allow fonts in main without
source, and so on.  I don't know what the right thing to do is, in that
case--but I don't think rule lawyering the word "program" in DFSG#2 in
order to sidestep the issue is a good approach, any more than it was a
good idea previously to rule lawyer the word "software" in the SC.

(To be clear, I don't dispute that the word "program" excludes documentation,
which makes this different than the previous "software" dispute.)

Glenn Maynard

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