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Freedom of licenses, freedom of works (was: Freedom of Parrot)

Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> writes:

> On Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 11:49:04AM +1100, Ben Finney wrote:
> > Debian considers the freedom of works, not license texts in
> > isolation.
> Please stop saying this. To the extent that it is true, it's also
> not relevant.
> Debian *does* consider the freedom of licenses. The only limitation
> is that there are licenses that can be either free or non-free based
> on how they're applied, but that does not preclude examining a
> license (which is in fact what we do here) and classifying it as,
> e.g., "free", "free when applied sanely", "free only when this
> option is used", or "non-free".

So, "free when applied sanely" or "free only when this option is used"
is considering the freedom that *results* from *applying* the license,
not the "freedom of the license" in isolation.

I don't see how this is qualitatively different from saying "Debian
*does* consider the freedom of licenses, but only in the sense that it
considers the freedom of a work when that license is applied; and this
might change depending on *how* the license is applied".

So, it seems to me that with all those qualifiers (either as phrased
by your message above, or my paraphrasing) the "freedom of the license
in isolation" is immaterial, compared with *how* the license is
applied to a work. That is, the freedom of the work, with that license
applied to it in a specific way, is what is judged, not the "freedom
of the license".

 \     "Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature |
  `\                            cannot be fooled." —Richard P. Feynman |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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