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Re: An ammendment (Re: Formal CFV: General Resolution to Abolish Non-Free)

On Sat, 17 Jun 2000, Hamish Moffatt wrote:

> On Thu, Jun 15, 2000 at 10:33:17PM -0500, John Goerzen wrote:
> > Hamish Moffatt <hamish@debian.org> writes:
> > >     4. Our Priorities are Our Users and Free Software
> > >        We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free-software
> > >        community. We will place their interests first in our priorities.
> > >        We will support the needs of our users for operation in many
> > >        different kinds of computing environment. 
> > 
> > Nor does it violate that.
> I disagree.
> In fact, the title of this clause is a bit misleading. The
> title says our priorities are both our users, and free software;
> the clause itself mentions only our users.
> "We will be guided by the needs of our users." Our users
> have indicated that non-free is currently required. 
> And that means us developing it, not us passing it off.
> Which part of that is not clear to you?

The part where you insist that this clause is not in support of our goals
for totally free software is the part that I cannot agree with. And it
doesn't have anthing to do with a part being unclear.

non-free (admittedly a misnomer) HAS promoted license changes that have
moved packages from non-free to the main disto. This IS the purpose of
this clause, and it DOES work, so why insist that we destroy a working
process simply because you don't understand that it does not conflict with
Debian ideals but only with your ideals (or your understanding of how this
clause effects your ideals)

The fact that this clause can be (and apparently is by you and others)
confusing, given our professed dedication to free software ideals, and the
moral dilema created by the misunderstanding of this term "non-free"
doesn't mean we should change any of the wording, and it certainly doesn't
mean that we should change the principles represented by this clause.

Just as the term Free, when applied to DFSG compliant software, can be
confusing doesn't mean that we should necessarily change the name to Open
Source. This is specially true if the term Open Source is no longer
defined by the DFSG due to "prudent" changes made by the OSI. Software
freedom is our goal, not just the ability to view source, and a reduction
of software freedom principles to just the availability of the source for
review, defeats the more important aspects of what we view as software
freedom. I submit that removing this clause because you object to the term
non-free because you misunderstand it is a mistake, just as allowing
software freedom to devolve to only source availability has clearly been
a mistake. The non-free clause provides freedoms that would otherwise be
unavailable. Removing it denigrates all the great efforts by some
developers to bring non-DFSG compliant software into compliance, or at
least into some kind of usefullness to our users. This doesn't mean that
our goal is in any way the production of more non-free software. It is, in
fact just the opposite goal that this clause supports.

Debian is all that is within our control. The principles by which we
intend to reach our goals of total free software are, if not clearly, at
least correctly (in spirit) deliniated in our Social Contract and any
substantive change to those principles undermines Debian's ability to
reach the goals we have set for ourselves.

I say again: "Vote no to any modifications of the spirit of this document"

My belief is that even seemingly inoccuous changes to wording will result
in a "slippery slope" effect that could very quickly undermine those
principles of Debian that make it such a spectacular distro that everyone
has the freedom to contribute to. All of the proposals I have seen so far,
appear to me to change the fundamental principles on which the "non-free"
clause is founded. I believe that this clause, as well as all the other
clauses in the social contract require that we adhere to them as written
and decided by BP and the developers resident at the time it was created.

Under the terms by which Debian has opperated in the past this includes
support for "non-free" as described. I have no difficulty with offering
addenda to the social contract that clarify this position or give the
principle more flexibility by indicating that FTP is not the only protocol
that Debian might agree to use in support of this effort, as well as
addenda which clarify the meaning of non-free in this Debian context, so
it is easier to understand why this clause is valuable to the execution
and completion of our overall goals of software freedom. 

While I see such activities, within our current constitution, as being
appropriate ways to debate the debatable aspects of the social contract, I
will continue to object to roll backs and changes to the wording of the
social contract that change the funamental character of this, or any other
clause in the contract. 

Users ARE members of our community. I DID sign this contract with them, as
much as I did with all the "code contributing" members of the community,
and I will only agree to changes in this contract that I and the rest of
the community (including Users) agree still meet the original spirit of
this contract. I submit (again) that a constitutional referendum is not
the appropriate way to "force" such change over the objection of the
signers of the original contract, and I encourage everyone to vote against
such proposed referenda.

non-free will "die" and be no more when there is no more software that a
Debian developer is willing to package. That day has not arrived and
attempting to arbitrarily arrive at that particular goal limits the
freedom of our developers to seek the software freedom we all desire by
packaging up useful DFSG-non-compliant software that is otherwise free to
distribute from our archives. Providing a means for such non-compliant
software to redeem itself through more correct licensing is the whole
purpose behind the existance of the non-free clause in the first place.
Removing it blocks one avenue of proven success at freeing software
licenses that we consider less than totally free, and therein lies my

I maintain no non-free packages myself, although I have done so in the
past, but I will defend the right of any developer to deliver non-free
components to the archives as called out in the social contract because I
believe such activity aids us in obtaining our goals.

Even if there are software components that continue to remain
non-compliant for ever and ever, forcing Debian to maintain non-free
indefinately, I still see that this feature has produced, and has
the potential to continue to produce DFSG compliant software, from
releases that were not compliant to begin with. This fits my goals for
Debian and is clearly an ethical and logical means to approach total
software freedom.

Waiting is,

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