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Re: Interpretation of the GR

Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> writes:
> On Thu, Mar 16, 2006 at 04:58:06PM -0500, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
>> Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> writes:

>> > If a GR says something is Free, then it must be saying that either
>> > 1: "the work is distributable", or 2: "distributability is not
>> > relevant to freeness".  A GR that calls a work Free is not
>> > orthogonal to distributability; it's intrinsically tied to it.
>> The issues aren't orthogonal, but the decisions are.  One decision
>> (the GR) is made by debian developers.  The other is made by the
>> courts.  The courts don't care about the GR if they have to decide on
>> whether a GFDL work is distributable via debian infrastructure.
>> Consequently, there's no reason to take the GR into account when
>> deciding whether GFDL works are distributable.  It's irrelevant to that
>> discussion.
> I'm sorry, I'm having trouble following your logic; this reads like a
> set of unrelated statements.  (Not meaning to flame or anything, I
> just don't follow.)

No problem.

> The determination of distributability and of freedom are directly tied:
> a work which can't be distributed reasonably violates DFSG#1 at its most
> basic level.  I don't know how you can call distributability and
> freedom orthogonal decisions.

Whether or not something is DFSG free is not an objective fact one can
deduce in the abstract.  It depends on a process -- very much like the
law does.  The problem is that the law depends on one process and DFSG
freedom depends on another, even though both depend on interpreting

The GR has trumped our interpretation of the GFDL.  Fine, it has that
right, at least for the context of the DFSG.  (Well, ultimately, I guess
it's ftp-master's decision.) But the GR does not affect the issue of
distributability -- that's a legal issue.  So the GR does not influence
whether GFDL works are distributable by debian.

The legal process (at least in the US) for determining whether debian
can distribute GFDL works depends on courts and lawyers: they have a
special status when deciding on the interpretation of a license.  We, as
members of d-l, do not.

So: the GR trumps us, but a decision from legal council or a court would
trump the GR.  Presumably, if such a decision said that debian could not
distribute GFDL works (or in some other way took a more literal reading
of the GFDL), the debian developers would agree that the GR would have
to be changed.

All I'm really saying (at far more length than necessary) is that it
doesn't matter whether we think about whether the GFDL is distributable
because we've been trumped by the GR.

>> What's more, your opinion (or mine) on whether the GFDL is distributable
>> given debian infrastructure is also irrelevant, because it carries no
>> weight.  The GR isn't going to get changed because you or I believe GFDL
>> works aren't distributable -- not unless we can convince enough other
>> people of that to get another GR passed.
> This is like a GR that says: "the GPL permits combining code with
> proprietary systems, and Debian will do so and encourage its users to
> do so".  It's patently false, and is merely a declaration of intent
> to violate the license.

Or a declaration of a false belief.  The GR is apparently a decision on
how to interpret the GFDL.  As such, it's quite possible for it to
simply be false.  But arguing that the GR is wrong on d-l is a waste of

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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