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Re: Suggestions of David Nusinow, was: RPSL and DFSG-compliance - choice of venue

Matthew Garrett <mjg59@srcf.ucam.org> writes:

> On Tue, Aug 24, 2004 at 03:43:01PM -0400, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
>> Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:
>> > So you believe that if we taught all developers about intricate
>> > licensing issues, the number who would be of the opinion that DFSG 4 is
>> > a mistake and that the GPL is only free because of DFSG 10 would
>> > increase significantly?
>> Probably, though I think that, taken proportionally, you'd see a much
>> larger increase in the former than the latter.  That may be because
>> I think that DFSG 4 doesn't allow surprising modifications, which are
>> fundamental to freedom.
> �"surprising modifications"?

Modifications which surprise the copyright holder -- code reuse which
he didn't expect.

>> > I don't wish to characterise people with knowledge and reasoned opinions
>> > as extremists. I do wish to characterise people who believe that several
>> > things that Debian accepts as free should be non-free as extremists. If
>> > there is overlap between the two, that doesn't mean that I'm calling
>> > them extremists because of their knowledge.
>> Debian accepts several pieces of QPL'd software as free.  I don't
>> think the QPL is a free software license.  Does that fact alone make
>> me an extremist?
> There remains some amount of debate about whether the QPL is a free 
> software license. I don't think disagreement over individual licenses is 
> in itself a sign of extremism - I think the QPL is probably free, but 
> close to the line.

But I believe that several things that Debian accepts as free should
be considered non-free.  That meets your stated definition of
extremism.  Do you have a better one, or am I an extremist?

My goal here is to convince you to stop labelling your opponents in
reasoned discussion extremists and thus unworthy of debate.

>> Is anyone with a position on the GFDL an extremist, then, or just the
>> losers?  That really could have gone either way.
> If it could have gone either way, that suggests that the losers aren't
> extremists. I think people who disagree with the DFSG (in either
> direction) are probably extremists - there's enough room for different
> interpretations and beliefs without actually having to disagree that
> active disagreement suggests that your opinions are fairly extreme.

But the DFSG is a compromise.  I would expect that most Debian
developers probably think it's a hair too strict or too lose, if they
think about it at all.  They're willing to accept it only because it
*is* a compromise.

I think that compromise is in the wrong place -- DFSG 4 was supposed
to be a compromise with the rest of the world, but as far as I can see
the rest of the world punted on that.  There isn't anybody using patch
clauses to release free software -- djb's software is still in
non-free and will stay there, and the La/TeX people have been great
about the renaming/patch issue.


Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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