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Re: Desert island test

On Friday 29 February 2008 02:21:51 am Miriam Ruiz wrote:
> 2008/2/28, Sean Kellogg <skellogg@gmail.com>:
> > 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.
> 1. Free Redistribution: The license of a Debian component may not
> restrict any party from selling or giving away the software [...]
> You are restricting people who lack the ability to send the changes
> back, put in a web page, or just being in a desert island. If you
> happened to have a plane accident (ref: Lost) and end up in a desert
> place unconnected to the rest of the world, and happened to have a
> computer and a Debian DVD there, you wouldn't be allowed -according to
> the license- to modify it or distribute it among the rest of the
> people in that place. That also applies to the dissident test, if
> you're in a country (dictatorship or so)  where distributing some
> software is severely punished for some reason, you wouldn't be able to
> comply with those license terms (you couldn't set up a web page and
> put the program online), and thus you couldn't give a copy of it to
> your neighbor next door. You're restricting some people from selling
> or giving away the software.

Well, I'm not 100% convinced I'm up for a fight about the tests themselves, 
but I'll parry this particular argument and we'll see where it takes us.

The provision that I must post changes does not restrict ones ability to sell 
or give away the software, it simply imposes a constraint. This constraint is 
in no way different than the constrain imposed by the GPL that source code 
must accompany the binary. Allow me to propose my own convenient test, which 
I refer to as the "Bloody Murderer Test":

While walking down the street, you are accosted by a a deranged lunatic 
hell-bent on the destruction of the Free Software Foundation with particular 
emphasis on undermining the GPL. He tells you that if you distribute any code 
licensed under the GPL with the corresponding source code, he will hunt you 
down and kill you in cold blood.

If we follow the logic of the Desert Island test (or the even more fun 
Dissident test), we plainly see that the GPL fails the Bloody Murderer Test. 
Or, we can say, the license isn't what is dictating the distributability 
(probably not an actual word...), but rather, it is the individuals situation 
that is doing the dictating. I, for one, don't believe debian should be in 
the business of ensuring every license covers every possible scenario a 
debian user might possibly, some day, find themselves in.


Sean Kellogg
e: skellogg@gmail.com

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