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Re: quake2 and german youth protection law

Michael Below <mbelow@antithese.de> wrote:
> > There was a post pointing out that quake2 is probably not
> > offensive and quake2-data does not contain the questionable
> > content and that post went unchallenged.
> I think I answered this in the same mail mentioned above, after
> looking it up. The quake2-data package contains an installer for the
> shareware data files, they are fetched from the net. And as far as I
> can see this is "Zug=E4nglichmachen" as prohibited by the law. In the
> above mentioned book, "Zug=E4nglichmachen" (=3Dmaking available) is
> defined as opening the concrete possiblity of immediate contact,
> directly or indirectly, complete or partially (Nikles et al., p. 138,
> no. 18).

I've been reading around http://www.lehrer-online.de/
(forgive me, but German law textbooks are not easy to obtain
quickly in the fens) under Recht: Ausf. Info.: Schulhomepage:
illegale Inhalte and it looks like unclear cases like ours are
only punishable if the federal authorities complain and we do
nothing. Have I misunderstood?

If that may be a correct understanding, I'm worried about
scaring off mirror admins with a strong statement that
exaggerates an uncertain legal situation. If you do contact
mirror admins, you should include the simplest possible
option which avoids this uncertainty without harming debian.

The closest example on lehrer-online isn't helpful, as it seems to
fall back to distribution not being allowed because of copyright,
just to make sure teachers are scared to distribute game CDs.

> About the quake2 package: I looked it up again, there seems to be no
> problem: The package description is talking about Quake II in a way
> that seemed to violate =A7 15 par. 1 No. 6 (public announcement, offer
> or advertisement): "Quake II is a 3D action game engine in
> first-person perspective, commonly known as a ``first person
> shooter''.  [...]  You will need to either install the commercial data
> from the Quake II CD-ROM with the ``quake2-data'' package, or install
> some free data files."

So, because we are not offering to supply the Quake II CD-ROM or files,
nor does quake2 describe where such things are obtained itself, it
is not such an offer or advertisement?

May quake2-data be a problem under this term?

> Now I found an explanation for the relevant terms in a penal law
> commentary, regarding pornography. This seems to be transferrable
> (Nikles et al., p. 123, margin no. 36). [...]

Is pornography a different section of this law to cited contents?
How confident are you that these definitions transfer?

> > I questioned the victims of this problem and received no answer,
> > although you replied that you would try to look it up.=20
> You questioned victims? Sorry, I'm not a native speaker. I don't
> understand the sense of this sentence. [...]

Sorry, I questioned who would be the victims of this law. I am a
native speaker, but I sometimes omit words by mistake.

> > It is possible that this law may affect all EU or world mirrors.
> Yes, it is possible. But I don't think so. Immediately, this law
> applies only to Germany. In addition, people not in Germany are
> prohibited to import banned media to Germany by mail-order, as I
> explained in that last mail to Humberto (=A7 15 par. 1 No. 5 JuSchG).

The person not in Germany would be exporting to Germany and the
recipient in Germany would be the importer. I can't find this
in your previous email, so I'm not sure whether you reflected
this and it's just an English-language slip; or whether this
law is a problem for non-Germany residents.

> The mirrors I know don't demand payment, so there is no immediate
> danger for them. But, as I wrote in that mail to Humberto, there seems
> to be legal risk for CD vendors delivering to germany without age
> verification.

So, is this more of a problem for debian-cd than debian-mirrors?
I see this German law appears to have very particular limits on
what is permissible age verification, as you've mentioned.

> >> In a discussion on d-l, my conclusions have been accepted.
> > There were no replies to your latest claims. Who do you believe
> > accepted your conclusions? [listing]
> I think I have replied to all the arguments in their mails, after
> looking things up in the library. After I did that, I announced that I
> would inform the mirrors if they now agreed, and asked for dissent
> (twice). You are the only one who has told me that his concerns are
> not settled by my findings.

As such, it's not clear what the other opinions are. You can't
claim safely that your claims have been accepted.

> I think it is the practical way to ask for dissent to prove a
> result. Is it custom in here to ask for consent instead?

I don't regard a two-line "I think we should tell [X]
[unspecified message] if we agree" as a practical way to ask
for dissent. Few agreed, but it seems you actually meant "I
will tell [X] [unspecified message] if no-one objects".

Your mails are verbose and you seem to often post reply to
someone's question in a reply to someone else. You may find you
get more response if you start a new thread here with a summary
of what questions you have addressed and what you intend to
send to mirror admins and/or CD sellers.

> > More significantly, the package maintainer is unconvinced on
> > bugs.debian.org/313159 and I don't think this will convince.
> That's my impression too. He was very brief, and obviously very sure
> that his packages couldn't be a problem. When I explained my initial
> concern in more detail, he didn't reply. But I'm afraid he won't
> change the German law that way.

You wrote:
  I have cc'ed my bug report to debian-legal, let's see what the
  discussion there shows.

I don't think it surprising that there's no reply before
this discussion concludes. Many maintainers dislike legal
uncertainty.  It also looks like the maintainer *can't* fix
this bug technically other than by requesting removal from the
archive, which seems a bit of an overreaction and globalises
one country's daft law. Maybe this is a mirrors bug rather
than a quake2 bug?

> I don't know if all mirror admins read debian-mirrors, and as far as I
> can tell, this is an issue every German mirror admin should know
> about: In my opinion, it would be harmful to the Debian project if
> mirror admins got into legal trouble, without being warned, and found
> out later that there has been information about the possible trouble
> available to Debian. So it seems to be better to mail them directly.

Mailing them directly means that it is untracked by debian and
new mirror admins won't know about this problem, among other
problems. I guess a bug would need opening against mirrors until
this can be added to mirroring instructions :-/

(I hope it would also be harmful to the German government if
they attempt heavy-handed censorship of debian, but maybe that's
a battle we don't want to fight today.)

> >> According to their web page, the FSF Europe seems to follow a more
> >> broad approach, but they don't seem to have a legal discussion
> >> list.
> > I have a route to do so and will do.
> Good. So let's see what they say.

Unsurprisingly, quake2 isn't very interesting. I should have guessed.

[... description ...]
> I am a Debian user for quite some time now, so I want to give
> something to the project in return. Because I'm not a programmer, this
> turns out to be mainly bug reports. And a bug report is what I did
> about the legal situation regarding Quake II.

and there's probably others which would be helpful, but I didn't find.

Could you publish a homepage at your place of study or work,
and put it in your sig, so new neutrals don't have to ask?
(You never know, maybe one day it could become a good resource
for new legal peculiarities of Germany affecting free software
and information.)

> Because I considered this issue important, and d-l to be the most
> likely forum for a qualified debate, I sent a copy of my bug report
> here, and I am doing my best to explain why I came to my
> conclusions. I am even ready to inform the ftp maintainers, because I
> think this is important.

It is appreciated, but please let us reach some understanding
first.  Let's say you had bulldozed us: what could happen next?

1. you emailed German mirror admins, saying that debian-legal
has accepted all these conclusions;
2. everyone's reputation takes a knock if you include some of
the less clear-cut or well-explained arguments from this;
3. some admin(s) email debian-legal to ask if it's true;
4. some here say "maybe some, but we never agreed to email you yet
and we don't really know who Michael Below is";
5. some admins flame you, some flame us and the gutter press do
another run of "debian-legal is insane" stories;
6. no-one wins.

> If someone feels he/she needs a second opinion on this, I'm ready to
> wait for that. But I don't feel obliged to provide that second opinion
> myself. As I explained, I have exams to prepare. Sorry.

We don't seem to be blessed with many German lawyers here to give
such an opinion, so I'd suggest summarising this law, pointing
to easy reference(s) for an admin to find out more, noting that
quake2-data may be a problem, describing how a mirror admin can
block a single package from their mirror and telling them of any
relevant campaigns against this sort of legal damage for free
distribution which they may wish to consider (FFII and ffis?).
Give people here some days to comment, update, then post it on
bugs.debian.org/313159, then send it out.

This law has been around awhile and governments normally move
at glacial speed, so I doubt a few more days spent trying to
build a rough consensus will hurt.

My Opinion Only: see http://people.debian.org/~mjr/
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