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Re: Bug#316487: debian-installer-manual: Missing copyright credit: Karsten M. Self for section C.4

Bug dropped, as this matter is resolved, posted to d-l only.

First off, I'd like to thank the several people in this discussion who
do have contributed intelligently and meaningfully to the conversation
and supported a reasonable resolution, including Michael K. Edwards,
Rick Moen, Francesco Poli, David Schleef, Wouter Verhelst, and Matthew
Garrett.  To Joey Hess, for whom I have a great deal of respect, and
count as a friend, thank you for your time on this matter, though we
disagreed on issues and resolution. 

To David Nusinow, a very heartfelt thanks for supplying the 17 words of
resolution needed.  Actions speek louder.

on Sat, Jul 02, 2005 at 08:01:52AM +0200, Christian Perrier (bubulle@debian.org) wrote:
> Quoting Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com):
> > Package: debian-installer-manual
> > Severity: serious
> > Justification: Policy 2.3
> (no legal nitpicking in the following, just common sense)

You're welcome to apply common sense, however this is in fact a matter
of law, and protected rights.

Under US copyright law, I and any other author am in fact granted a
number of specific rights, and are legally empowered to enforce those
rights under numerous civil and criminal actions.  Much of the Debian
project's activities are governed by US copyright law, and international
activities are governed by substantially similar law in Berne Treaty
signatory countries (virtually all of note).

As with many people involved in free software, I've become aquainted
with a number of matters of law, and the US copyright statute, and have
spoken and written on these issues.  I make no claims to be a lawyer.
However I'm rather much aware of my rights.

These rights include the rights to control the making of copies and
distribution of works (17 USC 106), and of attribution and itegrity (17
USC 106A(a)(1)(A)), and are enforceable against infringers of those
rights by a number of actions detailed in sections 504, 505, 506, 509,
and 512.  Most significant Free Software licenses explicitly express
these rights through copyright notice requirements, the MIT/BSD license
class emphasizes credit strongly (copyright notices and (old-style BSD)
"advertising clause"), and one license restricts itself to little _but_
attribution (the Artistic License).  

Infringement remedies could likely be imposed on a large number of
parties, including those who directly copied work, those who denied
rights under 106A, and any parties who distributed, modified, sold, or
made available through online electronic means the works.

I'm also aware that Free Software works, to an extent far greater than
in the proprietary software world, in my experience, in adherence to
licensing obligations.  In large part this is because the licenses which
are expressely designed to facilitate sharing, modification,
distribution, and use of works, and because the costs of noncompliance
are themselves very significant.

Efforts such as the Debian Project have a very strong obligation,
therefor, to ensure that license terms for included works _are_ complied
with, or are negotiated with authors for mutually agreeable, DFSG terms.
Failure to do so puts a large number of parties at risk:  the Debian
Project; SPI; Debian's major sponsors who include organizations such as
HP, Sun, and Progeny; publishers who've included Debian software or
documentation in works; VARs distributing Debian software, Debian-based
systems; and the hosts of hundreds of official and unofficial mirrors
worldwide.  All of these are partners of the Debian Project who rely on
individual package maintainers to scrupulously comply with the copyright
obligations of a given work.

In this case, the work had now been included, without authorization, in
two stable releases of Debian.  I'd brought the matter to the attention
of the responsible package's maintainers two years ago and was given the
brush off.  Some people apparently still don't understand the issue.
Several (including yourself) have made statements, which if interpreted
as official views of the Debian Project, would put literally hundreds or
thousands of organizations at legal risk.

It wasn't and isn't my intent to pursue such claims.  However I would be
fully within my rights to do so, as would anyone else in a similar

I'll further note that someone not familiar with the debian-legal lists
relationship to the Debian project, and encountering legally void,
factually incorrect, and grossly inflammetory comments such as those
authored, repeatedly, by Glenn Maynard, particularly if already
disinclined to grant benefit of the doubt to the Debian Project and its
parterns as a result of being tortiously wronged due to copyright
violations, might be very much inclined to take a number of actions.
Posts such as those of Maynards aren't merely ignorant, but put the
Project and its partners at increased legal risk.

Copyright law as it stands could result in the Debian Project and/or
partners finding its content taken offline (17 USC 512(c)); its hosts
subpoenad (17 USC 512(h)); injunctive relief sought (17 US 502 and
512(j)); servers, disks, CDs, DVDs, books, and other records impounded
(17 USC 503(a)) or destroyed (503(b)); sued for damages and profits (17
USC 504(b), 504(c), and 504(d)); assessed for costs and attorney's fees
(17 USC 505); and/or subject to criminal penalties including forfeiture
and destruction, penalties for fraudulent copyright notice, fraudlent
removal of copyright notice, and/or false reprsentation, (17 USC 506(a)
- 506(e).  Even the issue of addressing such claims would be a very
serious matter for the Project.

This was the area I didn't want to go into in an earlier response to
Maynerd's grossly ignorant and misinformed post:


To reiterate:  Debian developers not taking their obligations to
copyright and license compliance most seriously are putting a large
number of people at very serious, costly risk.

> Please note for further reference that each and every line, paragraph,
> documentation, translation, line of code, web page I have personnally
> ever contributed to any free software project does not need any
> special attribution, license or whatever to be re-used.

That is _your_ personal prerogative.  It is not an action or opinon
required by law.  If you are willing to follow this course as a matter
of policy, that's fine and good.  It imposes absolutely *no* obligation
on anyone else to do likewise, least of all myself.

I've made my own contributions on a no-restrictions basis, where I've
chosen to do so, and will continue to do so if I feel it's appropriate.
In general, however, I prefer to be credited for my work.

As has frequently been stated in Free Software licensing issues:  the
author chooses the license.  I've been more than willing to adapt
specific licensing in this case, and in fact dropped the specific
utilization terms in my original work for an unmodified GPL v2 for the
work as adapted within the DIG as the remedy text was being inserted.
This, incidentally, makes the license of the modified work within the
DIG *more* restrictive than my initial license terms.

The objection raised that "it would[n't] be healthy for readability (or
usability)" of the documnent for additional, compliant, licensing terms
to be noted in the document is legally a no-op.  Anyone who's watched
the boot log of a BSD-based system particularly proprietized versions,
can attest to the lengthy copyright credits and licenses involved.  As
the work had already been incorporated, the obligation would have been
to note its license as well.

<irrelevant content snipped>

> Sometimes I wish that free software contributors forget about legal
> nitpicking and licenses/copyright headaches to just concentrate on
> coding. 

This is a frequently expressed desire.  It's a preference Linus Torvalds
has specifically stated, in response to my asking him about the issue
specifically (Computer History Museum presentation, ~2001).  It's a
point on which he and RMS differ significantly.  I side strongly with
RMS:  licensing matters.  It matters one whole hell of a lot.

Unfortunately, wishing away the law won't make it go away.  We've got a
world with copyright law, lawyers, and people who will attempt to
exploit the system from various angles.  I've spoken with many
contributors to significant Free Software projects who've had to deal
with infringement issues, and its never a pretty issue.

Fortunately, thanks to Richard M. Stallman and the FSF, the Regents of
the University of California, MIT, Mozilla, and other people and
organizations, we've also got a body of licenses which are well
constructed, time-tested, broadly accepted, and conducive to sharing
works freely with few restrictions or obligations to copying, modifying,
distributing, using, publicly displaying, or otherwise exercising rights
which are otherwise reserved to authors under copyright law.  Free
Software licensing is an immensely clever legal, technical, and social
hack, a bit of ju jitsu which exploits strengths of a law meant to
restrict public rights (and doing so increasingly with
copyright-industry influenced legislative rewrites over the past 30
years) with the power to make a $266 billion convicted illegal
monopolist with a decades-long policy of twisting law, legistlatures,
regulators, and competitors, fear for its future.  If that's not power,
I don't know what is.

And contrary to ESR's recent statements, the GPL is no less valuable
today than it was in 1984.

> I know this won't happen and I know this won't make you change
> your mind. Just another point of view.

You're more than welcome to your point of view.  There's zero obligation
for anyone else to be bound to it.

> This thread is probably started for days and will eat the time of
> dozens of developers, especially Joey Hess who I consider as the major
> architect of the technical success of the Debian Installer. This, just
> to solve your concerns about your work not being "properly"
> attributed, according to your own reference system.

As David Schleef noted, the issue I raise is largely the same as that
Joey Hess raised in Bug #265620:


    1. dpkg-cross is in violation of my copyright. You include in this
    package a /usr/bin/dh_strip (diverting the one in debhelper). This
    program is a lightly modified version of dh_strip from debhelper.
    Your modifications included claiming copyright over the program,
    removing my authorship statements, and not including a notice of my
    copyright anywhere in your package. This is a violation of my rights
    under copyright law, and a violation of the GPL.

In my own case:  I'm a systems and network administrator, technical
writer, and programmer.  In promoting myself to potential clients and
employers, I'd like to be able to point to evidence of my own work,
particularly as it's been adopted by significant projects.  Being able
to point to a specific authorship or copyright credit, rather than "yes,
that's really my work, you can tell it's pretty similar to the stuff I
wrote _here_, and really, I didn't just copy it from the other place",
is worth something to me.  It's worth something pretty significant.
It's my legal right to demand.  And it's a benefit which can be (and
was) provided me with minimal effort on the part of the Debian Project.

Moreover, if you think a day or so's discussion on mailing lists is an
excessive obsession with adherence to legal rights, I'd invite you to
observe a _real_ legal dispute some time.  There's one of which I've
some knowledge involving two companies, one based in Lyndon, UT, the
other in Armonk, NY.  The amount in dispute may be as much as $50
billion, and my estimate of costs in simply answering _one_ request for
evidence likely approached or exceeded a quarter million dollars.

Yes, I'm very grateful for IBM's standing up to Microsoft's puppet war
through Caldera/SCO.

> This will probably trigger other such requests because it is highly
> probable that you are legally perfectly entitled to this.

That _is_ the point, you see.

> This is so great. Joey, and probably Frans Pop, who is in charge of
> the installer manual, will have to spend a lot of valuable hours to
> track down and solve such issues. Maybe even far more than the time
> saved by including your work in the installer manual.

Time which could have been saved two years ago had Chris Tillman or
other d-i members simply done the right thing two years ago, as

Inaction at that time, as I've explained at length above, put the Debian
Project, himself, and many, many others at significant legal risk.

> So, just think about this?: have you *really* contributed to this
> software project?


I believe this has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt.

> You will probably try to convince me that you're right. You don't need
> to. You *are* technically right. In my reference system, you are not
> morally right.

And your reference system is binding on whom?


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Never is a long time.

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