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Re: Licenses for DebConf6

Scripsit Don Armstrong <don@debian.org>
> On Sat, 12 Nov 2005, Anthony Towns wrote:

>> OTOH, conferences usually ask for the minimal permission they
>> actually need to do their job.

> Often; but they're not mutually exclusive. [At least in the academic
> world, it's not all that unusual for publishers to require a
> non-exclusive, unlimited copyright license to the work;

The conferences I usually publish at always demand an all-out
copyright _transfer_. However, in practice they will usually accept a
non-exclusive license to print and distribute unmodified copies.

I think it would be sad if Debconf required more than that.

>> Debian distributes lots of things that aren't DFSG-free -- not only
>> stuff in non-free, but also stuff on lists.debian.org (like this
>> thread), stuff on bugs.debian.org, and stuff on planet.debian.org.

> Those examples are primarily a case of not being able to do better and
> still function; here I believe we can do better, and therefore should.

I fully disagree, also with your implied assertion that wanting the
author to give up more rights than necessary is "better" for the
purpose of a conference.

> It was merely a statement that no one is forcing anyone to license
> their works in a particular manner, merely that the organizers (which
> to avoid confusion, doesn't include me) of the conference determine
> what the minimal set of permisions they need to do their jobs is. [Not
> that you should take your ball and go home.[1] ;-)]

You and Fransesco appear to want the conference organizers to require
_more_ permissions than what they have already decided are the minimal
set of permissions they need to do their job.

And I cannot see any argument that a conference needs more permission
than the right to distribute verbatim copies of the papers and

> I assume that the right thing is having the works licensed under a
> DFSG free license; granted, we've disagreed on numerous occasions
> whether that truly is the right thing or not...

How do you conclude that? The conference papers are not going to be
part of an operating system that anybody depends on; nobody will have
a need to go about changing them. This is a different situation from
documentation of code that _is_ in the operating system. Documentation
has to be kept up to date as the software it documents changes; that
is important to people and businesses who have let their computing
needs depend on the software. On the other hand papers at a conference
just serve to document what happened at the conference, and this will
never change until time machines are invented.

I don't see how _anyone_ are better served by having an empty slot in
the conference instead of a paper, simply because the paper is not

The valid analogy with the way we handle our OS would be to collect
all papers without DFSG-free licenses in separate sessions at the
conference, not to kick them out of it completely. But I honestly
cannot see who that would help: The distinction between main and
non-free in the OS serves to help people make decisions about which
software to base their systems on, but who would make decisions about
which presentation to _hear_ based on whether the _paper_ can be

Henning Makholm          "Ambiguous cases are defined as those for which the
                       compiler being used finds a legitimate interpretation
                   which is different from that which the user had in mind."

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