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Re: A radical approach to rewriting the DFSG

On 30 May 2004 06:28:12 +0100 Henning Makholm wrote:

> I have been toying with the possibility of rewriting the DFSG such
> that it enumerates which things a free license *can* do, rather than
> just give examples of things it *cannot*.

It sounds interesting: it may work better...

> I think that such a revision
> could get the guidelines to be much closer to the *actual* practise of
> how we evaluate licenses than if we simply make local adjustments to
> the current DFSG. The downside is that the whole truth cannot be
> condensed into the "ten commandments" schema of the current DFSG.
> My results so far are at
>    <http://henning.makholm.net/debian/dfsg-bis.html>
> Comments will be appreciated - both about the general angle of attack,
> and about my specific draft. I have probably forgotten about a detail
> here and there.

First comments:

* the title: why `stuff'? I'm more comfortable with free _software_
guidelines, perhaps with a clear statement that we interpret the term
`software' as every piece of information that can be treated by a
computer system (that is programs, documentation, data...)[1]
Should these guidelines become the new DFSG, I think they will be named
Debian Free Software Guidelines version 2.0

* "Here, accompanied with the source must be understood to include the
situation where source is available for download from the same network
location and under the same conditions as the non-source form is
available under." I would generalize this:
s/available for download from the same network location/available from
the same place/

* typo: "respect to his to his own copyright" s/to his to his/to his/

* enhancement (maybe): "if the user knowingly copies the work in a way
not permitted by the license"
s/copies/copies or distributes/

* typo (I think): "license may require than" s/than/that/

* typo? "when a copy of the work are sold" s/are/is/ ???

* question: "Such a restriction is exactly as silly as it sounds.
However, some otherwise free programs come with licenses that specify
that the program must not be sold alone but only as part of an aggregate
software distribution."
Do you regard those programs as free? Is there any consensus on d-l
about this awkward restriction?

* Specific exception for 3-clause BSD licenses: "Debian strongly
encourages authors to use more appropriate tools than copyright licenses
if they feel they need more protection than the usual laws against
misleading advertising." which tools? Trademarks? Any other? I think you
should suggest at least one...

* Grandfather clause: mmmh! I already clarified MHO about
grandfathering, so I won't repeat myself...[2] Just a question: does
this mean that you also grandfather GPL#8?


[1] of course the statement should be better phrased, but you know what
I mean and I'm in a hurry now... sorry  :p 

[2] read as: I would prefer if d-l revised the three famous licenses to
be sure they are acceptable on the basis of the other guidelines

             |  GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4 | You're compiling a program
  Francesco  |        Key fingerprint = | and, all of a sudden, boom!
     Poli    | C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12 |         -- from APT HOWTO,
             | 31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4 |             version 1.8.0

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