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Re: Final text of GPL v3

On Mon, Jul 02, 2007 at 11:37:06AM +0100, Gervase Markham wrote:
> Adam Borowski wrote:
> >Can we dub GPLv3 "GPL with the advertising clause" then? 
> I don't think so. The advertising clause was highly impractical. I don't 
> see informing users of their legal rights as being impractical.

The only difference is that it's not the author of the software who is being
advertised, but GPL and FSF position.  And while informing users is not bad
when done once, it's an abomination if every single piece of software does
that on its own.  If I use Debian, I already do know that I'm allowed to do
X, Y, Z thanks to the DFSG, and there is no need to repeat that on every
step.  Especially when I didn't ask to be spammed with that notice.
Repeatedly receiving some text has a price paid in my attention span, making
me lose time which could be used for just anything else.  It's a cost which
in some corner cases can be significantly detrimental to usability.  I'm not
blind, but I can imagine the time wasted to go through the legal notice with
a Braille reader or such.

> >While for GUI apps having an "About" menu
> >item is usually not an issue, legal notices are a significant burden for
> >console stuff, both full-screen and line-based.  
> How so?

For line-based stuff, yeah, you're right.  Having "bc" and "colordiff" in
mind, I forgot about having --spam-me-with-legal-notices as an option merely
mentioned in the manpage -- even though this contradicts the requirement
about the notice being "prominently visible".  In a non-menu/non-command
based full-screen program having a key combination bring up the legal
notices could also be a solution, albeit often an annoying one.  Let's
imagine the following list of keys:
  * arrows -- move
  * q      -- quit
  * ^L     -- show legal notices
Ugh, 33% of explanation being wasted on legal things.  Extremely ugly,
especially if you consider that for many of us most of the point of Free
Software is not having the legal system stand in our way.  With Free
Software, we (ideally) don't have to care about Intellectual Property,
license fees, patents, trade secrets, etc -- just use/modify/copy the
software whenever it is for our benefit.  GPL gives an extra guarantee that
my work won't be used in a way inaccessible to me -- while forbidding me to
become a "bad guy" in this regard.  Free Software, when it's really free and
not merely a ruse to sneak some proprietary crap through, makes us free from
legal concerns -- both "am I allowed to use X?" and "I wouldn't want people
to have a right to use Y without paying me" are legal concerns here.
Having legal notices everywhere destroys this freedom.
> >And just think about software which communicates using voice (hands-free
> >things, for example).
> Why does voice-communicating software have any further problems? The ALNs
> can be read out at the user's request.

Well, let's take a system with two user interfaces:
1) a GUI where you set up rules like "if someone approaches the computer, do
   X.  If someone leaves the room and there's no one else in, do Y.".
2) hands-free interface where user interacts by moving around, waving hands,
   etc, and gets feedback using voice.

Interface 1 can have "Help | About" just fine.  The problem is, you need to
make it possible to get legal notices using _every single interface_.  For
interface 2, this could be something like "to unblank screen, approach the
computer.  To blank it, move away.  To get told legal notices, jump".

1KB		// Microsoft corollary to Hanlon's razor:
		//	Never attribute to stupidity what can be
		//	adequately explained by malice.

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