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Re: AGPLv3 Compliance and Debian Users

On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 04:27:14PM -0700, Howard Chu wrote:
> >That's not the point.  The purpose of the Dissident Test is to demonstrate
> >that distribution channels for software are not necessarily symmetric; it
> >may be very easy for you to distribute the software, but very
> >hard/expensive/dangerous for a recipient to distribute their modifications
> >back to you.  In the specific case of the Dissident Test, the unreasonable
> >cost of returning the changes upstream - as opposed to distributing them to
> >whoever you happen to be distributing binaries to (possibly no one) - is
> >that sending those communications back may give hostile authorities
> >information you don't want them to have, such as your location, details
> >about the software you're modifying, or even simply the fact that you're
> >doing something that you care about encrypting to keep them from prying.
> >Even if you aren't otherwise doing anything the government disapproves of,
> >the mere act of sending these changes upstream might get you labelled a spy.

> This is still an unreasonable test. Again, it ignores the element of
> time. Send your changes at your earliest convenience. If the NSA is
> breathing down your neck, "convenience" might be a long time away,
> but that's understandable.

It ignores the element of time because the licenses this test was
constructed in response to don't *allow* the user to do so.  There is no
common sense "at your convenience" rule baked into the law; if the licensor
means that this should be done at the modifier's convenience, they should be
spelling that out in the license - with the understanding that the licensor
and licensee may not agree on what is convenient, and that it may *never* be
convenient from the licensee's POV.

Let's not forget that Al Capone was convicted not for murder, racketeering,
or bootlegging, but for tax evasion; and that the US tax code specifies
where on your tax form you are required to report income from the sale of
illegal drugs.  It would be ironic for a dissident to evade capture and
prosecution for years, only to finally be brought up on charges of criminal
copyright infringement (with or without the consent of the copyright
holder!) for failing to submit their changes upstream while operating

> >This is one example of why Debian says it's ok for a license to require
> >modifications to be distributed to your downstreams, but not ok to require
> >those changes be sent to a particular party.  Users should not have to
> >choose between complying with the license and being safe from their
> >government; they should be *free* to exercise their rights on the code in
> >Debian, even when they aren't free in other aspects of their lives that we
> >don't have control over.

> Freedom always has a price. The price of benefiting from free
> software should be that you help others benefit from it too.

That's your position.  That's not the Debian position.

We *encourage* those who benefit from free software to give back; but we
decided early on as a project that *requiring* people to give back was a
higher price than we were willing to accept.

> Even here http://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html

As that URL suggests, this is not an official statement of the Debian
project, it's a document maintained by one individual Debian developer.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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