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Re: Summaries in general, was: Summary Update: MPL ...

On 2004-06-24 10:40:01 +0100 Francesco Poli <frx@firenze.linux.it> wrote:

Anyway, IMHO, summaries of /license/ analyses are still useful.

Oh, I agree, but I think we need to make a few changes to how they're being done, now we've seen them in action for a while.

There seem to be two types of licence summary needed:

1. for licence authors, which was the original suggestion.

This covers your purpose c, I think. These should summarise the concerns which we would like clarification on and those parts which we think likely to make any software under that licence non-free. I don't see the benefit of including any headline "this licence is non-free" declaration in this type of summary.

Why no benefit? This type of summary is to help represent our views to licence authors more efficiently. There is a range of opinions on debian-legal and a simple judgement in abstract doesn't seem to represent that well. These are presumably licences being drafted and any conclusion about future possible software under them seems premature. Finally, telling a licence author effectively "we have decided you got it wrong" in a headline seems unlikely to persuade all but thick-skinned inhabitants of lists like this.

2. for developers, which seems to be the aim of the /legal/licences/ page.

This covers your purposes a, b and d. There is a similarity, in that they can summarise the concerns about or (if the licence is settled) problems with the licence, but I don't see the benefit of including headlines in them. What seems more useful is to give an example piece of software under that licence, apply the analysis and then conclude whether the software can go in main/contrib, non-free or not at all.

Why is a "this licence is free/non-free" headline unhelpful? Well, we're trying to help analyse the covered software and it is possible (but rare) that someone can use a licence commonly used for non-free software to produce free software (by granting extra permissions, probably), or use a licence commonly used for free software to produce non-free (by enforcing patents or unusual interpretation).

Moreover the summaries are good references that avoid us to explain
again and again why license L is clearly non-free.

;;;; warning - semi-rant follows. Skip down to conclusion if you are new here.

Yes, I think you've found the exact reason. These "developer summaries" should aim to be a sort of FAQ, not a checklist of free/non-free judgements. debian-legal is ill-suited to be FSF++ or OSI mark 2 and should not be turned into that. I have realised that this list's members have a role to play, helping to make debian a distributable free software operating system, so let's stick to that role. Looking back, I find it interesting to notice how many of the older hands participate in different types of thread.

Trying to decide on licences in abstract is a gift to debian's enemies who post on sites like promote-opensource and debianHELP, who misrepresent discussions here as if they are decisions to move whole swathes of software to non-free. (I know we have many friends on sites like those, too. Those are just two with posts that have really pissed me off.) This is not helped by the reported dislike of some debian developers for licensing questions, or some -legal contributors flaming maintainers who have licence bugs to address. We need to work with the rest of debian, not act as some sort of licence police, people! (That's not to say don't report licence bugs if you find them...)

;;;; skip to here

In conclusion: if some debian-legal contributors want to try to make another org to approve and reject licences, please go do it somewhere else. Let's improve the summaries so that they better serve our job. I'm interested to know whether anyone agrees with the "two types" idea.

My Opinion Only and possibly not of any group I know.
http://www.ttllp.co.uk/ for creative copyleft computing

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