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Re: [PROPOSED] Change package relations policy to remove references to non-free from main

Package: debian-policy
Severity: normal

Joseph Carter wrote:
  >I think the keyring belongs in non-US/main, but it can't get there until
  >20 September 2000 unless we change our policy to not consider US patents
  >as making something automatically non-free.

I did not realise that was the policy, but I see this in 2.1.4:

    `Non-free' contains packages which are not compliant with the DFSG or
     which are encumbered by patents or other legal issues that make their
     distribution problematic.

Patents are almost entirely a US problem; `other legal issues' is very
vague, but if it makes distribution a problem, the package should probably
not be in the archive at all.

     All packages in `non-free' must be electronically distributable across
     international borders.

Would a patent lawyer agree that software that violated US patents is freely
transferable into USA?  Has anyone taken any advice on this?

In any case, I think it is wrong for US problems to dictate what is free or

This is a formal proposal to change policy to read thus:

2.1.4. The non-free section

     `Non-free' contains packages which are not compliant with the DFSG.
     There must be no legal issues that hinder the packages' being freely
     distributable from the archive.  Non-free packages may have restrictions
     on their being included in a distribution for sale; checking such
     restrictions is the responsibility of the person making the

     All packages in `non-free' must be electronically distributable across
     international borders.

2.1.5. The non-us server

     Some programs with cryptographic program code must be stored on the
     "non-us" server because of export restrictions of the U.S.

     This applies only to packages which contain cryptographic code.  A
     package containing a program with an interface to a cryptographic
     program or a program that's dynamically linked against a cryptographic
     library can be distributed if it is capable of running without the
     cryptography library or program.

     Packages that violate US patents must also be placed on the non-us server.

This leaves open the problem of what to do about packages that violate
patents of other countries; since they are currently in non-free, our
mirrors host them anyway.

We should probably maintain a database of legal issues against packages, to
make it easy for people to see if there is anything they should exclude from
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Oliver Elphick                                Oliver.Elphick@lfix.co.uk
Isle of Wight                              http://www.lfix.co.uk/oliver
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