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Bug#594542: debian-policy: add descriptions for main, contrib, and non-free archive areas

On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 09:20:42PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> Andrew McMillan <andrew@morphoss.com> writes:
> > On Fri, 2010-08-27 at 18:06 -0400, CJ Fearnley wrote:
> >> The DFSG defines freedom in software licenses, but doesn't provide a
> >> statement of assurance to users.  Maybe a statement that Debian main
> >> supports the Four Freedoms[1][2] would turn the prescriptive DFSG into
> >> a qualitative benefits statement.
> > I think that you're treading on thin ground pushing for that.  The DFSG
> > is a defining document in Debian, so if you want to narrow or broaden
> > that coverage you should be doing so by promoting changes to that
> > document - not to policy.
> > Personally I'm happy with the freedoms described by the DFSG as it
> > stands at present, but if you believe it is flawed you should argue
> > those flaws in the wider arena of Debian via a GR or such.
> I don't think CJ is advocating changing the DFSG, but rather is concerned
> that the way the DFSG is worded may not make it clear to people what the
> motivation is and what the implications are for users.  In other words, a
> rephrasing or preamble, not any sort of normative modification, that says
> "this means you can use the software for absolutely anything you want."
> I can see that point, although I'm not sure that it makes that much
> difference for Policy, since Policy is largely aimed at people who are
> reasonably familiar with Debian and are looking for technical guidance.
> I would tend to point people at http://www.debian.org/intro/free or some
> similar sort of place to explain the motivation and background for what
> Debian means by free.

Russ' interpretation of my thinking is correct.  I certainly don't want
to change the DFSG.

I'm thinking about a customer who is afraid of using Debian for some
business purpose, for example.  Their lawyers have spread fear and
uncertainty:  beware, the BSA[1] may come after you.  They read the DFSG
and they learn what we mean by freedom, but they still might not connect
the dots to realize that Debian main is doing its best to effectively
guarantee ... the four freedoms ... the best protection against BSA
interference that a mere document can provide ... what we all know is
our protected freedom.  But I think we haven't said it directly enough.

http://www.debian.org/intro/free is good for a footnote, but it also
doesn't succinctly say that Debian main trys to ensure that it can be
freely usable and redistributable (with the requisite freedom protections
for your users too) by anyone for any purpose.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Software_Alliance

We are on a spaceship; a beautiful one.  It took billions of years to develop.
We're not going to get another.  Now, how do we make this spaceship work?
  -- Buckminster Fuller

CJ Fearnley                |  Explorer in Universe
cjf@CJFearnley.com         |  "Dare to be Naive" -- Bucky Fuller
http://www.CJFearnley.com  |  http://blog.remoteresponder.net/

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