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Re: Please enable free redistribution of Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score

Dear Richard,

thanks for your response.

On Fri, Jan 15, 2016 at 02:23:31PM +1300, Richard and Emma Roxburgh wrote:
> I'm flattered that Debian is approaching me again about this 10 years later.

There are chances for approaching you some years later again since I'm
doing some regular review of all our packages.  When doing so I'm doing
some polishing about the license status of the software and just for the
statistics from the 6 projects I approached 4 agreed to a free license
and one did not yet responded. :-)

The reason why I'm doing this is that caused by the Debian
infrastructure programs that are considered non-free regarding the Open
Source definition are causing more work for the maintenance and also do
not profit from the full automatic quality assurance.  That's why we
have an interest to free as much code as possible.  On the other hand in
case of severe problems (may be not everything is as simple to fix as
once for gcc 4.3[1] - I hope this patch was forwarded to you ...) the
decision between fixing the problem or dropping the package at all is
more biased to the latter option.  This is also due to the fact that
sellers are not allowed to sell Debian media including software like
mssstest (since you are not allowed to sell it - even if the main goal
is not to sell mssstest).  So mssstest is not part of our release and
thus looses relevance.

We as in the Debian Med team simply try to make a better distributions
for medicine and try to propagate *all* relevant software to our users.
We do this via so called metapackages (see for instance the med-tools
metapackage that contains mssstest[2]) that are depending from relevant
software but we also can not depend from non-free software and thus
potentially useful software remains hidden in the Debian package pool.

> The program is used widely and freely by anyone who wants to - hundreds of
> citations to date is strong evidence of this.
> I do not see that there is a problem that needs fixing

I think I understand your point but as an additional data point I'd like
to give a hint at our popularity contest numbers.  These are generated
out of the set of Debian users who agree to submit data about programs
they are using.  If you look at the graph for mssstest[3] it shows a
decreasing trend (if you can speak about a trend at these low absolute
numbers).  This might have different reasons but it is quite untypical
for the programs in the Debian Med field.  I'm not sure whether you see
this as a problem - but we do.
> So I do not intend to change the way that MSSS test is available

That's your choise but I think we will approach you after a couple of
years again. :-)

Kind regards and thanks for your time


[1] https://anonscm.debian.org/viewvc/debian-med/trunk/packages/mssstest/trunk/debian/patches/20_gcc-4.3.patch?revision=2273&view=markup
[2] http://blends.debian.org/med/tasks/tools#mssstest
[3] https://qa.debian.org/popcon.php?package=mssstest

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andreas Tille [mailto:andreas@an3as.eu] 
> Sent: Monday, 11 January 2016 8:43 p.m.
> To: Richard Roxburgh; Debian Med Project List
> Subject: Please enable free redistribution of Multiple Sclerosis Severity
> Score
> Hi Richard,
> I'm writing you on behalf of the Debian Med team a group inside Debian that
> has the objective to make Debian the best distribution for medicine and
> biology by packaging according software for main Debian.  Following this
> attitude we have created Debian packages of mssstest[1].
> The thing is that the licensing statement says:
>    Anyone may copy it but no one may sell it.
> which is a restriction that is regarded as non-free according to the Debian
> Free Software Guidelines.  So mssstest was never part of the official Debian
> distribution.
> We would like you to reconsider the restriction under the following
> considerations:
>  - Did you earned a mentionable amount of money by selling mssstest
>    yourself?
>  - Do you consider that anybody else would earn a mentionable amount
>    of money by selling a freely licensed program?
>  - Would you agree that it is in the interest of mssstest code and
>    the users to have a free distribution inside Debian?
> It would be great if you would simply drop the restriction and enable us to
> integrate mssstest into Debian properly.
> Kind regards
>       Andreas.
> [1] https://tracker.debian.org/pkg/mssstest
> --
> http://fam-tille.de


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