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

On Tue, 31 Oct 2006 20:50:19 +0100 Ola Lundqvist wrote:

> Hi Mathew
> (Anyone on debian-legal: please note and maintain the Cc:s)

Again assuming that this means you and Matthew want to be Cc:ed as

> > 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.
> True. But do this mean that Nvidia have actually violated the license
> that they have released their software under? Well maybe not as they
> may not need to accept the license to actually use their rights...

A copyright holder cannot violate the license he/she releases his/her
work under: he/she needs *no* copyright license to deal with his/her own
work in any manner.
The only license violation that could possibly happen is on works
someone else holds copyright on.

Hence, nVidia could be in violation, *if* and *as long as* their work is
based on someone else's GPL'ed work.  I don't know if this is the case

> As I understand from this, is that it is not enough to know that the
> software is licensed under GPL, we must also check every single line
> of code (manually) to determine if it is obfuscated or not before we
> include it into Debian? Or should we just do this on a best effort
> basis, that is file serious bugs when we encounter this.

I think the Debian Project should assume that what upstream distributes
as "source code" is actually source code (that is to say, the "preferred
form for making modifications to the work"), *unless* there is a reason
to think otherwise.

Please note that IANADD: my personal opinion does not necessarily
reflect the one of the DDs.

> > If people define source as "the preferred form for modifications" in
> > all  cases, then there's no place for deliberately obfuscated code
> > in Debian.
> That is what the Open Source Definition tell. The open source
> definition is only applicable on programs though. But we do not
> enforce the usage of the open source definition as far as I know. Or
> do we?
> http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

The OSD is completely off-topic here.
The Debian Social Contract promises that "Debian will remain 100% free"
according to the DFSG.  It never speaks about the OSD.

> > There's also arguably no place for works that are only available 
> > as JPEGs, any flattened image formats, mp3s, PDFs and so on. 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.
> True. The positional statement that clarified was not the winner in
> one of our votes:
> http://www.debian.org/vote/2006/vote_004

Please note that, according to the proposer of GR-2006-004 (hi Don!),
the text of the resolution "very carefully walks the line that the DFSG
currently walks"[1].  That is to say, this GR (which however did not
pass, as you note) only "restates what is current practice"[1], as far
as non-programmatic works and DFSG#2 are concerned.

The discussion about source code of non-programmatic works is
(unfortunately) still to be had.

[1] see the thread that started with

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