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Re: Debian official web site is still non-free

On Sun, Jan 08, 2012 at 07:38:24PM +0100, Francesco Poli wrote:
> Recent discussions on bug #388141 [1] (starting at message #206),
> include a plan to ask for copyright assignments to SPI from all future
> and (then) past contributors.
> I think this is the wrong approach.
> The Debian Project does *not* ask for copyright transfers for anything,
> AFAICT. Not even for the packaging.
> Why should a contributor trust SPI to always take the Right™ licensing
> decisions in the future for his/her contributions?

Let me followup on the specific point of copyright assignment, which I
definitely glossed over in my first follow-up to David's plan.


I'm generally concerned with copyright assignments and I'll never sign
one myself for a piece of software to a for profit organization.

In this specific case, and as an author of some of the context on
www.debian.org website, I'll be much less concerned. Partly because it
is not software and of scarce interest outside the Debian context. But
more importantly because the assignment will be done to a non-profit
organization (SPI), that have transparent rules and elected bodies, and
that have Free Software principles at the heart of the organization.


Nevertheless --- and as already exemplified by several follow-ups to
David's proposal --- we are surely going to encounter more resistence to
copyright assignment requests than what we would encounter to re-license
requests.  Let's see if we can avoid that.

>  (A) Decide a set of licenses for the Debian web site.
>      A default for GNU GPL v2, with the Expat/MIT being allowed
>      (for any contributor who wants to use a more permissive license)
>      seems to be the most reasonable proposal [6]
>  (B) Track down all contributors to the web site, contact them and ask
>      them to agree to the re-licensing of their past contributions
>      (under the GNU GPL v2 or, if they so wish, under the Expat/MIT).

David has mentioned two points in favor of copyright assignment over
re-licensing: (1) "what if we need to do it again?" and (2) separation
of concerns (i.e. first we get the right to re-license, and only then we
pick a license). I find both arguments quite convincing.

A possible way out, that I'm hereby suggesting, is to ask for the right
to re-license (instead of copyright assignment), but to ask a blanket
permission to re-license under any DFSG-free license the -www team will
see fit, now and in the future.

Stefano Zacchiroli zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences ......  http://upsilon.cc/zack ......  . . o
Debian Project Leader .......  @zack on identi.ca .......  o o o « the
first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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