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Re: Let's stop feeding the NVidia cuckoo

Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:
> Don Armstrong <don@debian.org> wrote:

>> What sorts of issues with JPEGs? We should have available and
>> distribute the prefered form for modification for them as well.  That
>> is, whatever form upstream actually uses when upstream wants to
>> modify the JPEG. In some cases, this will just be a JPEG. In others,
>> it will be an XCF, SVG or something else entirely.
> If we actually upheld this standard at present, it would result in us
> removing a large number of packages from Debian.

Which packages?  Without specific examples it's difficult to discuss
this point.  In fact this claim is made frequently ("Oh, but that would
mean we'd have to remove hundreds of packages!") -- and often it turns
out to be wrong.

> However, even
> ignoring that, I think your definition leads to some strangeness. It
> suggests that a JPEG is DFSG-free in and of itself in some cases, but
> that the existence of a lossless representation of that picture
> renders the JPEG non-free unless it's distributed with that lossless
> representation.

No, it doesn't.  The lone JPEG is only non-free if the lossless version
is what the original author would use to make a modification to the
JPEG.  If, for example, the original author threw out the lossless
version immediately on making the JPEG, that's strong evidence it's not

> If I delete the only copy of the lossless picture, is
> the JPEG now source?

Depends.  Not if you did it as an evil plot to keep anyone else from
making changes to your work.  But see above, otherwise.

> If a JPEG can be considered "free enough" under some circumstances, I'm
> confused as to why it's not always good enough.

I think you're getting to the heart of the issue here.  We're not
constrained to come up with a "definition" of free.  What that means in
this case is that our guidelines needn't be objectively verifiable.
While it would be nice if we could manage this, it turns out to be
completely unworkable.  We have to be able to deal with a certain amount
of fuzziness if we're not going to let legal nitpickers pass things that
are technically free, but not really free.  Thus, all the argument that
happens on d-l.

> I haven't tried to formulate a precise definition yet,

Feel free to give it a try, but I'm not going to hold my breath.  This
issue has come up before and lots of folks have suggested alternative
definitions of "free" -- all of which bogged down in corner cases by
trying to be too exhaustive or objective.

> but I think that
> the GPL's definition is stricter than we should require in general. We
> don't have the DFSG because they provide philosophical freedoms - we
> have the DFSG because they allow people to engage in practical
> activities. If a piece of software allows someone to assert their
> freedom to perform those acts without onerous restrictions, then it
> ought to be free from a DFSG standpoint.

Speak for yourself.  One of the things that makes d-l so combustible* is
that different people have lots of different opinions on why we need the
DFSG and how we should use them.

* I'm shocked, actually.  I've been gone from d-l for six months, and
  there doesn't seem to be a flame war raging at the moment.

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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