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Re: Desert island test

On Thursday 28 February 2008 10:19:26 am Walter Landry wrote:
> You just have not been around long enough ;) The desert island test
> was first mentioned in 2002 in
>   http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/01/msg00010.html

An actual cite to the DFSG, but it is from before my time...  of course, there 
is no explanation of how a "licenses in which any changes must be sent to 
some specific place" violates:

1. Free redistribution.
2. Inclusion of source code.
3. Allowing for modifications and derived works. 

I suppose you could imply a very specific meaning of the word free... but I 
think if you do that, you begin to question whether the GPL really flies, as 
there is a "cost" associated with distribution...  thank goodness for DFSG 
#10, eh?

The point though is that reasonable minds can disagree... and as my fellow 
common-law trained lawyers remember from law school, where reasonable minds 
disagree there is ambigutiy and uncertainty. Absent an authoritative judicial 
body, the debate will continue to rage. Holding up the tests as establish 
orthodoxy is, in my opinion, premature. (and please, don't claim the 
ftp-masters are the judicial body... that's like saying the FBI are federal 
judges... the FBI can thrown my in jail, but that doesn't make it legal.)

> The first time someone tried writing down all of these tests was in Mar
> 2003
>   http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/03/msg00460.html
> The page cited in that email still exists at
>   http://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html

Now this is a page I remember... it is indelibly rooted in my mind because of 
this fun exchange:

Q: I've flouted your advice and written a new license. I strongly believe that 
it conforms to the DFSG and is a free software license. People on 
debian-legal don't seem to agree though. They give explanations for their 
decision which I find completely unconvincing. I keep trying to explain the 
flaws in their reasoning to them, but to no avail. Is there any way for me to 
compel Debian to accept that my license is free? 
A: No.

Nothing like being so sure of your own god-like status as to shutout debate 
and deny the existence of a very clear method to compel Debian to accept the 
license...  it's called a GR and has been used in just such a situation (GDFL 
anyone?), much to the dismay of some -legal contributors.


Sean Kellogg
e: skellogg@gmail.com

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