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Re: Licenses for DebConf6

On Thu, 10 Nov 2005 13:02:22 +0100 Henning Makholm wrote:

> [I tried to crosspost this between -legal and -devel, but apparently
> it never arrived on -legal. Resending...]


> Scripsit Francesco Poli <frx@winstonsmith.info>
> > Don't you agree that seeing non-free or even undistributable (no
> > license means "All Rights Reserved", with current laws!) papers at a
> > DebConf is really a shame?
> I don't.
> Remember that non-free != evil, and that some of the arguments why
> free software is a good thing do not apply to expositions of scholary
> work or other conference contributions.

IMHO, papers to be presented at a conference are documents (often pieces
of documentation) that can (technically) be read, studied, adapted,
copied, redistributed and improved by other people.
In a manner much similar to computer programs.
I think that /legally/ allowing the above operations is a good thing for
both programs and papers (and many other works of authorship).

Are we restarting the "documentation is (not) software" discussion?
I hope we are not...   ;-)

> People who think that intellectual property is in and of itself an
> evil concept are free to license their contributions liberally.

I don't think that (all) free software developers see "intellectual
property" in and of itself as an evil concept.
However, I would rather avoid the term "intellectual property"...

> But
> on the other hand, people who like free software for pragmatic reasons
> related to its being, well, software should not be forced to give away
> more rights than practically necessary for making the conference work.

Most of those "pragmatic reasons" apply to conference papers too, IMHO.
Anyway, nobody is forced to give a talk at DebConf6, hence nobody would
be forced to publish a DebConf paper in a DFSG-free manner (even if my
suggestion were accepted).

I mean: some constraints *need* to be put for a DebConf anyway.
For instance non-exclusive publication rights are already required.
Moreover the topic of the paper cannot be arbitrarily chosen: would you
accept a paper about the proprietary Microsoft tools used to deploy a
Microsoft network? or about medieval history?

What I suggest is just adding another (good, IMHO) constraint.

> For example, it is common not to want to allow derived works for
> conference papers.

It is also common to require high fees for attending international
congresses and conferences.
DebConf is not doing this, though (fortunately: a big thanks to all the

It is also common not to want to allow derived works for computer
programs (see e.g. Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Apple, Oracle, ...).
Debian developers do not contribute to Debian this way, though.

> That does not conflict with the SC, because the
> papers are not going to be part of our operating system.

I'm perfectly aware that we are not talking about SC violations.
But complying with the SC is not the *only* good thing that DDs can
do...  :-)

Moreover, I don't see a good reason to consider packaging DebConf papers
for inclusion in Debian as an absurd idea.
It could be done and could be useful.
After all, we currently have several Linux Gazette issues in (sarge's)
main: they have licensing problems, but if they hadn't any, I would have
nothing against their presence in main. 

    :-(   This Universe is buggy! Where's the Creator's BTS?   ;-)
  Francesco Poli                             GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4
 Key fingerprint = C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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