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Re: Final text of GPL v3

Adam Borowski wrote:
The only difference is that it's not the author of the software who is being
advertised, but GPL and FSF position.

This seems an unfairly perjorative way of saying "the list of rights the user acquires with the software". This clause is not about making the GNU Manifesto (or even a copy of the GPL) pop up every time you start an application. No text is mandated.

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

Except that the GPL also allows you to do Q, but requires you to do R if you do so, both of which are not mentioned in the DFSG.

Not to mention the fact that many Debian or Debian-derived distribution users (e.g. Ubuntu) may never have heard of the DFSG but use the software. I think it's reasonable for the software they use to tell them what rights they have to it.

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.

Again, the clause does not say that the user must be forced to be presented with the information.

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".

I don't think so. For someone who uses command-line software, a command-line switch like --version or --help is the equivalent of Help | About.

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.

Except that copyleft is entirely built on the legal system.

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.

And that's an important extra guarantee and obligation that the user needs to know about.

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.

So the notice "You may play ball games in this park" destroys the freedom to play ball games in the park?

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".

Yep. Why is this worse than the GUI or command-line versions? You could argue that the command could be accidentally invoked, but that's true of buttons in GUIs or mistakenly typing -V instead of -v on a command-line app. Just pick a sequence of movements that it's very difficult to do without meaning it.


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