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Re: A new practical problem with invariant sections?

On 2/16/06, olive <olive.lin@versateladsl.be> wrote:
> Some of the DFSG (expecially the patch close) show that the interpretation
> of what free is was broader at the beginning than the current
> interpretation of the DFSG (I am right to say that if this patch close
> didn't exist; you would have said that a software under such license
> obviously violates the DFSG?).

I think that it's safe to say that at the time the DFSG was drafted
it was felt if the patch clause wasn't included in the DFSG that
some software important to Debian would have been treated as
non-free.  I think it's also safe to say that we thought that allowing
that software into Debian was a better idea than excluding it.

Perhaps we should consider amending section 4 of the DFSG so
that instead of only allowing one restriction on modification (changes
must be distributed in source form as patches to the unmodified
sources) to allowing any restrictions on a Debian Free Software
Warts List.  This "warts" list would include the patch, and would
also include some other carefully chosen statements about what
we allow.

The rationale for modifying the DFSG to include this list would
probably be that we feel that allowing software with these
(relatively minor) warts in them would be good for the free
software community.  In part this would be out of respect for
the FSF and its contributions and decisions.

Note that we'd need to be careful here -- we wouldn't want
to allow anything into debian which we couldn't work with.  We
have to be able to fix security problems when they arise, and
ports to other architectures are also important to us.

We might also want to stipulate that software without warts
can't depend on software with warts (I don't think we currently
do this, but if we're increasing our risk of running into
problems, we should try to contain those risks).

Note that I'm not making a formal proposal here -- this is more
of a discussion piece.

Note also that I'm not saying I'll automatically agree with any
such proposal -- I'd think very carefully about all changes
to the DFSG.

Note also that this would be different from non-free in a very
crucial aspect: there would be a specific set of warts that we
allow, instead of having it just be "everything that we won't
get in legal trouble for that seems like a good idea".  In other
words, we could mark each package with a warty license
with the specific warts represented in the licenses for that
package.  This alone might make this worth doing, even if
in the process we relegate "warty" packages (including those
with patch clauses) to some archive which lies between Main
and Non-Free.

Also, note that since this already requires a 3:1 supermajority,
we can include specific mention of this approach in the social
contract, to align with the existing social contract mention of

But if we're going to do something like this, it should start based
on the promises of the social contract.  Especially things like
our promises to support the free software community and to
not hide problems.


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