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Re: Anti-TPM clauses

Francesco Poli wrote:
On Wed, 12 Sep 2007 12:36:49 +0200 Olive wrote:

You seem to imply that a conscientious decision is by definition
based on correct reasoning and equally correct conclusions.
As if FTP masters could only be wrong when they press the wrong key
on their keyboard by mistake.
As far as I know, FTP masters are human beings and can therefore
make mistakes: both in pressing keys *and* in analyzing packages
from a DFSG-freeness point of view.
You seems to think that they an absolute "transcendental" property of "free" that have to be discovered. Debian is a community that consider
some works free and other works non-free. They have written guidelines
to help to decide where to class a given license but these are only guidelines not something absolute and the final answer has yet to be decided.

Debian has set rules to decide who precisely is entitled to class a given license. As long a given license has been accepted as free following the rules; then it means that is considered free by Debian; the criterion for admissibility in main. If the ftp masters have
decided  that a license is free; then indeed it is the decision of
Debian. If  still contentious; this decision can be reverted by a

Firstoff, please note that *packages* are accepted in main or otherwise
*Packages*, not *licenses*.

OK, but packages are accepted according to their license; when I say that Debian accept a license I mean that it accept packages under this license. This seems clear, is it not?

Secondly, there seems to be some catch-22 situation in your reasoning.
FTP masters (unless overridden by GR) decide what is accepted in main:
this seems to be actually the case.
FTP masters are Debian Developers, and thus have promised to abide by
the Debian Social Contract[1].
This document states, in part:

| We promise that the Debian system and all its components will be free
| according to these guidelines

Now, you seem to claim that what is conscientiously accepted in main by
FTP masters is, by definition, free according to the DFSG.
If this were true, well, the Debian Project would be always *trivially*
and *automatically* abiding by the above-quoted part of the SC,
whatever is done by FTP masters.
According to this view, if tomorrow one FTP master goes mad and accepts
MS Internet Explorer in main, everything is fine, because what has been
accepted in main is by definition DFSG-free...

This does not sound logical.
Suppose that I state: "I promise to always say the truth, but whatever I
say is true by definition".  Would you think I actually made a promise?

If a mad ftp master would decide to include IE; his decision will very rapidly be reverted by other ftp master I think. If the community feels that Debian do not respect his engagement; there is the possibility of a vote. In the unlikely case that the vote would confirm that IE is indeed free then it could be called Debian-free. The social contract is a contract between Debian and the free software community; as long as both party agrees with an interpretation (even a very strange interpretation); there is no violation. Debian have judged that members entitled to vote are representatives of the free software community.

[1] http://www.debian.org/social_contract

It can be that you do not understand how this decision follow the DFSG
but it simply means that your reading of the DFSG is different from
the  one of the ftp masters.

Sure.  That is indeed what I maintain.
The fact is that I don't buy that the FTP masters' reading of the DFSG
should be considered as "correct" by definition.
We, debian-legal regulars, are human beings and can make mistakes, but
the same holds for FTP masters.  Unfortunately, without any explanation
from FTP masters, there's no way we can even understand the origin of
our disagreements on some issues, let alone come to agree again (with
one of the two sides changing opinion).

There is not an "absolute" coorect
reading of  the DFSG; but in this case; following the rule of Debian;
it is the  reading of the ftp masters that is by definition the good
one (or the  one of the people voting).

Here is the point where we disagree.
FTP masters (unless overridden by GR) have indeed the power to decide,
but they do *not* have the power to have their decisions considered
*correct* by definition.
I believe I still have the right to express my opinion and say that I
think a given decision taken by an FTP master is a mistake.

Firstly, there are not really correct by definition since they can be overrided by a vote. But there is no reading that is correct in absoluteness and to discuss if a packages is free in absolute make no sense. What make sense is what Debian considers free and as long as the decision is taken according to rules we can say that Debian considers it free. We can disagree in the sense that we would like Debian have made another decision.

I think there is a derive in this list. Participants seems to thinks that they are the members of a jury who have to decide whether a given work is "free". But the participants here are not entitled to take decisions; the purpose of this list is just to discuss license, not to

I'm aware that this list works as an advisory board, where freeness and
legal issues are publicly discussed in order to give FTP masters (and
others in charge) enough data and arguments to take an informed
The problem is: when the consensus view of the advisory board seems to
be too often ignored and disregarded without explanation by decision
makers, well, the advisory board begins to feel useless and tries (at
least) to get some feedback from decision makers.  Lack of communication
is really frustrating.

But debian legal is not an entitled "advisory board". It is a freely open list to discuss license. The ftp masters cannot tell anyone why a given decision is taken; just the same way a developer cannot tell anyone how to use his software. If you want to learn something about Debian; technically or juridically you have to learn it on yourself. Participating on Debian legal does not give anymore rights than to the millions of users of Debian.

I vehemently object about people speaking of a "consensus" on this list about a license being non free. A license being non free is
a  license who is not considered free by the Debian as an
organization; it  has nothing to do with the opinions of people
posting on this list. We  just see a small group of people who try to
take powers that they have not.

I'm not trying to gain any powers.
I think that the Debian Project is too important, and hence I don't want
to just say "I don't care".  I feel the Project is failing to abide by
its SC and thus I'm trying to persuade people that there's something to
be fixed.

But the problem is that you feel that you are a member of some advisory board (which is not a "jury" as I have told in other messages but is nevertheless close to) and that Debian have counts or explanations to give to this advisory board. A person participating in debian-user (the technical mailing list) cannot expect that the developer of a software he uses will answer all his questions; it is the same for members participating in debian legal.

Now to understand the motivations for CC-v3.0 accepted as free is not really difficult as these motivations have also be posted to this list; briefly that it is in spirit the same as GPL. My guess is that the ftp masters have the same opinion. But stop do not tell me that you do not agree; I know it. But I think it should be possible to understand a motivation even if we do not share it.

For the moment, CC-v3.0 has been accepted following the rules for many

I managed to find some 3 or 4 packages in main including works licensed
under some CC-v3.0 terms.
Can you point out other ones?

It is already enough.

You can say that you do not agree in the sense that you
would  *like* this license to be rejected; that's your opinion.

It is indeed my opinion, and of some other debian-legal regulars.

But if
someone  ask if this license is acceptable for main he does not ask
your opinion,  nor the opinion of the members participating in Debian
legal; he asks  the opinion of Debian as an organisation believing
(often wrongly) that  people here will be able to answer.

If someone wants to learn the opinion of FTP masters, he/she should ask
them (good luck in getting a detailed reply...).
If someone asks debian-legal subscribers, what he/she will get is, well,
the opinion of debian-legal subscribers...
My telepathy device is broken: I cannot read the minds of FTP masters,
and hence I cannot learn their opinion, as long as they do not speak.
I can point out what the Debian Project seems to be doing with works
licensed in a given manner, but I cannot do much more.

I do not agree with this; a person who packages a software asking for an advice want to have the opinion of Debian. Even when we do not agree with this opinion; it can be possible to tell it. Not in all case but if there are already previous packages accepted; the case becomes more clear.

BTW, I don't think I failed to characterize my view on CC-v3.0 as my own
The two main messages where I recently expressed my take on this subject
In one of the two I explicitly added my (often used) disclaimers:
In the other, I said:
"I agree with you that CC-v3.0 licensed works should *not* enter main"
and, immediately after, I explicitly acknowledged that FTP masters seem
to disagree.

The only
answer for now for CC-v3.0  is "yes" because that have already been
decided for other other  packages. Expressing his opinions and let
people who asks a question  think that one speaks in the name of or
gives the opinions of Debian is  simply dishonest. When reading answer
to questions; I very often have  this feeling.

As I said, when I reply, I always try to do my best to explicitly
clarify which are my own opinions, which are (perceived) opinions of
other people, and which are factual statements.
I apologize for any case where I failed to make this explicit and clear

I must confess you that the answer having me really angry might not be your. I was particularly angry by reading a message like this:


where he seems to say that a consensus of Debian legal might have more value that the one expressed by the people officially entitled to do so. That really let think that debian-legal would be entitled to decide what is free according to Debian. I have read other messages of the same kind.


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