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Re: Is this license DFSG free?

On Saturday 11 June 2005 01:29 pm, Joe Smith wrote:
> """
> Consider a dissident in a totalitarian state who wishes to share a modified
> bit of software with fellow dissidents, but does not wish to reveal the
> identity of the modifier, or directly reveal the modifications themselves,
> or even possession of the program, to the government. Any requirement for
> sending source modifications to anyone other than the recipient of the
> modified binary---in fact any forced distribution at all, beyond giving
> source to those who receive a copy of the binary---would put the dissident
> in danger. For Debian to consider software free it must not require any
> such excess distribution.
> """
> The tests are not official but if they are failed it seems wrong to call
> the package free. Remember that the the G is DFSG is 'Guidelines'. Even if
> the package meets the guidelines it may contain clauses that prevent the
> package from being free. For example if a licence requires you to sing
> loudly and/or stand on your head while distributing the software, (assuming
> that those examples do not somehow the guidelines) it would clearly be
> non-free. And debian would be unable to distribute it.

Huh...  That's an interesting position for Debian to take.  While in principle 
I agree that it is certainly preferred to not require disclosure of 
modifications, I don't find any grounds in the DFSG that indicate such a 
policy stance.  One could certainly envision a GPL that required disclosure 
without distribution, and I'm willing to bet it was seriously considered at 
the time of its drafting.  I understand that the 'G' in DFSG provides some 
flexability, but can you point to the particular clause that you feel hints 
at this sort of a requirement/prohibition?


Sean Kellogg
2nd Year - University of Washington School of Law
GPSS Senator - Student Bar Association
Editor-at-Large - National ACS Blog [http://www.acsblog.org]
w: http://probonogeek.blogspot.com

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