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Re: Validity of DFSG #10

Hi MJ, thanks for your feedback!

On Mon, Jan 07, 2013 at 01:32:20PM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> Stefano Zacchiroli <leader@debian.org> wrote:
> > Hold on :-) All you're discussing here already exists. FTP masters vet
> > software that enters the archive, de facto deciding whether the
> > associated licenses are DFSG free or not.
> Actually, don't they decide whether the *software* follows the DFSG?
> They're not the DFLG, after all.

Right. That's in fact why I've written "de facto" in the sentence you
quoted ;)

So, let's be more precise. The list that I think would be useful is a
list of copyright licenses that, if they were the only "constraints"
attached to the usage/modification/redistribution of some content, would
make that content suitable for the Debian main archive.

That does not cover corner cases (not only the interaction between
copyright and trademarks, but also license mixes), but it's useful---to
us and others---in a whole lot of common scenarios.

And then nothing stops us to do more to deal with the complex cases
(e.g. which mixes of copyright licenses we consider acceptable, when
code get linked together, in Debian main? which mixes of
copyright/trademark?, etc), even though that's would require more work.

> It is quite possible to use a licence that works fine for some other
> software and botch it (I think there's a famous example where a
> trademark licence is applied in tandem with the copyright one),
> resulting in a fail.

FWIW: the problem with iceweasel/firefox was the *burden* caused by the
intermix of trademark/copyright licenses (e.g. the obligation of
renaming the package upon security patches not vetted by Mozilla), not
that it didn't make the package free per se. That is something that has
been addressed in the current best approximation we have of a working
draft of our inbound trademark policy, see:

> I think there have been at least three attempts to index them in the
> past, but few seemed to care about them and so they gradually bitrot.
> Even the DFSGLicenses wiki page was last edited 2012-08-16 and now
> appears to be immutable.

I guess this is simply related to the recent need of resetting your
wiki.d.o password. I can edit that page.

> Who wants this index?  Who's willing to put the time in?  I'd be happy
> to help, although I won't lead another attempt.

In passing, I note that having such a list is not much different in
principle than DFSG §10: it's a concretization, with real examples, of
the DFSG which are by their own nature in the abstract.

I don't think there is "someone" who wants this index. I think it's
social value that we can offer to the free software world by maintaining
it. Let's accept that we are not just yet another distro. Our licensing
choices have effects which extend past our project borders, they can
(and do) influence where the free software movement is going. We will do
a service to the free software world by documenting them better than now.

Stefano Zacchiroli  . . . . . . .  zack@upsilon.cc . . . . o . . . o . o
Maître de conférences . . . . . http://upsilon.cc/zack . . . o . . . o o
Debian Project Leader . . . . . . @zack on identi.ca . . o o o . . . o .
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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