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Re: Bug#383481: Must source code be easy to understand to fall under DFSG?

On Tue, 31 Oct 2006 16:26:38 +0000 Matthew Garrett wrote:

> On Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 05:00:15PM +0100, Ola Lundqvist wrote:
> (Anyone on debian-legal: please note and maintain the Cc:s)

Including the From: field (that is you) and the To: field (that is Ola
Lundqvist)?  Let's assume the answer is yes...

> > The only requirement on the original author (as I can determine) is
> > that you get source code for it, not that it is in preferred form
> > for making modification.
> That's perfectly acceptable. Upstream can do whatever they want. 
> However, if upstream do not provide the preferred form for
> modification  (ie, the unobfuscated version), Debian can not
> distribute it under the  terms of the GPL.


> That's not an issue in this case, since X is not a GPLed application. 
> Debian can distribute the obfuscated code entirely legally, without 
> violating any licenses. The issue is whether "source" in the DFSG
> refers  to the GPL's definition ("the preferred form for
> modification") or not.

IMHO, DFSG#2 refers to source code, as is usually defined, that is to
say, as in the GNU GPL v2.

> An alternative interpretation could be "a form
> amenable to modification  by people sufficiently familiar with the
> work".

I think that this would be too vague a definition.
The term "amenable" could be interpreted in a too broad sense and this
would become a slippery slope: someone sufficiently familiar with a
program could succeed in modifying its binary executable using a hex
editor, but (at least in most cases) he/she would *prefer* to make
modifications to the C code (assuming that the program is actually
written in C).

> If people define source as "the preferred form for modifications" in
> all  cases, then there's no place for deliberately obfuscated code in
> Debian.

Yeah, and that's a feature, not a bug!!
Deliberately obfuscated code is absolutely against the spirit of Free

> There's also arguably no place for works that are only
> available  as JPEGs, any flattened image formats, mp3s, PDFs and so
> on.

Not necessarily.  It depends on which is the "preferred form for
modifications": this can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.
For some works the "preferred form for modifications" may be in JPEG
format (think of photographs taken with a digital camera); for some
other the "preferred form" may be some other format (from which the JPEG
is generated).

Please note that the same situation holds for programmatic works: for
some programs the "preferred form for modifications" may be assembly
code (or even machine code); for some other the "preferred form" may be,
say, C code; for some other it could be a grammar definition (think
about tools that generate C code for a parser of a given grammar: bison
comes to mind).

> Right now  there doesn't seem to be a strong opinion in the
> project about that, but  I expect it's a discussion that needs to be
> had.

IMO, this discussion desperately needs to be had.  I think the right
time to have it is after etch is out.

But it is also tradition that times *must* and always
do change, my friend.   -- from _Coming to America_
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
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