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Re: BitTorrent Open Source License (Proposed Changes)

Sean Kellogg <skellogg@u.washington.edu> wrote: [...]
> I think that sounds lovely in theory...  however, I really have no sense of
> how the ftpmasters synthesis the debates that go on here.

I don't think many do. I watch the effects and try to work out
what's happening. Sometimes it's good, sometimes bad, but more
data would be great.

Mostly, contributors seem to work on other interfaces which
give more feedback.

> What I do know is
> that this list spends a lot of time declaring licenses to be non-free based=
> on dubious tests that are poorly grounded in the DFSG or legal thinking that
> would never fly in a court room. 

The recent work which concentrates more on the DFSG and less
on the tests. Until the tests are explicitly reconnected,
I expect that to continue.

"this list" doesn't declare anything about licences. There is
currently no mechanism for it to do so. There have been attempts
to construct a mechanism, but none worked IMO. Some contributors
comment on licences, but that's not the same thing.

It's also not a court room. Sorry if anyone was confused.

> The discussion on what constitutes
> discrimination under DFSG #1 continues to be so outside of mainstream legal
> thinking to be debilitating.

I don't follow the list that closely, especially off-topic and
meta discussion, but should that really say DFSG 1? It doesn't
mention discrimination itself, does it?

> I was actually trying to describe the thinking
> to a legal prof who is pretty well respected among the software industry and
> he was amazed to hear that was considered a viable way of thinking of
> discrimination.

That description is not included here and I have no faith in
its accuracy, based on this effect.

> The problem is that when there are "potential areas of abuse" in other=20
> licenses people rush to declare it is non-free. 

When? Personally, I try to write "watch out for [potential], it
could be a problem in [situation] and could be improved".

> I believe that the GPL and
> the BSD represent the mainstream of free licenses.  If the position is that
> the GPL is the extreme to one side, then I fear for Debian and its ability
> to evolve as FOSS licensing thinking changes. 

The GPL is one side of mainstream and BSD is another side of mainstream.
I think most people would agree. Not extremes, perhaps, but apart.

Debian has mechanisms for evolution, but debian-legal by itself can't
enact them (and nor should it try IMO). As itself, -legal works
within the parameters known at the time.

> I'm willing to wager money that
> this list will declare GPL 3 to be non-free...  and I say that without even=
> knowing what will be in the license.  The kneejerk reaction to apply super=
> strict rules and "worse case scenario" prognosticating doesn't seem helpful.

Until the FDL, I would have taken that wager. Now I'm not so sure.

> > > Seriously man, where do you get off?
> >
> > Oh, the usual place, I expect.  People in the Southern Hemisphere
> > aren't _that_ different from us.  :-)
> There is a cultural problem here on d-l...

To me, it seems that the problem is mostly lack of respect for
others and their different cultures, but it's more common in
off-topic and meta discussions than the directly on-topic ones.

> those with the most extreme views
> of the DFSG seem to have been attracted to this list as a place to force
> their views.  I'd much rather see honest legal debate based on common,
> mainstream values held by the FOSS community.

Cute, but:
1. "Honest legal debate" brings questions of what legal system to use
and which lawyers in it are honest?
2. Some of the "extreme views" are "common" so who judges "mainstream"?
(Some say debian isn't mainstream because of its SC anyway.)
3. How do we bring it about?
4. Why would DDs accept it?

> That includes REASONABLE=20
> readings of DFSG #1.  Clearly OSI, who has very similar terms, has adopted a
> reasonable interpretation and approved several license.  Why is Debian
> special to go the other way?

AIUI, the Open Source Initiative took debian's practical guidelines
and cast them into a legalish definition. What works well as
a tool is not a very good definition. It should be no surprise
that the initiative failed and "open source" becomes more and
more ambiguous. Ask them why they aren't returning to debian.

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