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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

I second the proposal quoted below, as well as future editorial changes.


On Wed, Oct 29, 2003 at 04:25:28PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> [Please direct followups to debian-vote.]
> Now that the vote over the meaning of clause 4.1.5 of the Debian
> Constitution is drawing to a close, the time is ripe to clear the last
> bit of pending business from the discussions of the summer of 2000.
> My proposal to amend the Debian Social Contract follows.  You can find
> the text of the existing Debian Social Contract at <URL:
> http://www.debian.org/social_contract > or on your Debian system in the
> file /usr/share/doc/debian/social-contract.txt if you have the
> doc-debian package installed.
> *****************************************************************
> "Social Contract" with the Free Software Community {+[PROPOSED DRAFT
>   1. Debian Will Remain 100% Free [-Software-]
>      We promise to [-keep the-] {+preserve your right to freely use,
>      modify, and distribute+} Debian [-GNU/Linux Distribution entirely
>      free software. As there are many definitions of free software, we-]
>      {+operating system distributions.  We+} include the guidelines we use
>      to determine if [-software-] {+a work+} is "free" [-below.-] {+in
>      a document called the Debian Free Software Guidelines.  Every work
>      contained in our distributions will satisfy those guidelines.+}
>      We will support our users who develop and run non-free software
>      on Debian, but we will never make the system depend on an item of
>      non-free software.
>   2. We Will Give Back to the Free Software Community
>      When we write new components of the Debian system, we will license
>      them as [-free software.-] {+freely in a manner consistent with the
>      Debian Free Software Guidelines.+}  We will make the best system
>      we can, so that free software {+and other works+} will be widely
>      distributed and used.  We will [-feed back bug-fixes,-] {+communicate
>      bug fixes,+} improvements, user requests, etc. to the "upstream"
>      authors of software {+and other works+} included in our system.
>   3. We [-Won't-] {+Will Not+} Hide Problems
>      We will keep our entire [-bug-report-] {+bug report+} database open
>      for public view at all times.  Reports that users file [-on-line-]
>      {+online+} will [-immediately-] {+promptly+} become visible to
>      [-others.-] {+others without requiring manual approval.  Project
>      discussions will be held in forums open to public participation
>      except where absolutely necessary.  We are committed to transparency
>      and accountability in our decision-making processes.+}
>   4. Our Priorities are Our Users and Free Software
>      We will be guided by the needs of our users and the [-free-software-]
>      {+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.
>      We [-won't-] {+will not+} object to commercial software that is
>      intended to run on Debian systems, and [-we'll-] {+we will+} allow
>      others to create value-added distributions containing both Debian
>      and commercial software, without any fee from us. [-To support-]
>      {+In furtherance of+} these goals, we will provide an integrated
>      system of [-high-quality, 100% free software,-] {+high-quality works
>      of software and other materials+} with no legal restrictions that
>      would prevent these [-kinds of use.
>   5. Programs That Don't Meet Our Free-Software Standards
>      We acknowledge that some of our users require the use of programs
>      that don't conform to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. We
>      have created "contrib" and "non-free" areas in our FTP archive for
>      this software.  The software in these directories is not part of
>      the Debian system, although it has been configured for use with
>      Debian. We encourage CD manufacturers to read the licenses of
>      software packages in these directories and determine if they can
>      distribute that software on their CDs. Thus, although non-free
>      software isn't a part-] {+uses+} of [-Debian, we support its use,
>      and we provide infrastructure (such as-] our [-bug-tracking-]
>      {+operating+} system [-and mailing lists) for non-free software
>      packages.-] {+distributions.+}
> *****************************************************************
> [N.B.: wdiff produced possibly confusing output.  If you look carefully,
> you will see that clause 5 has been stricken entirely.]
> Some of my amendments are semantic; that is, they change the meaning of
> the Social Contract, whereas others are editorial; that is, they change
> the wording of the Social Contract in an effort to convey the intended
> meaning (as I understand it) in a clearer way.
> Rationales for amendments:
> 1) I felt it was important and useful to elaborate upon some of the core
>    freedoms we mean when talking about "free software" (or free
>    documentation, free images, etc.): those are the freedoms to use,
>    modify, and/or distribute the work in question.
> 2) Debian has been, and is increasingly, more than just a GNU/Linux
>    distribution.  We produce multiple operating systems, and it does not
>    stand to reason that our GNU/Linux distribution will be the only one
>    worthy of a stable release forever.  I have thus generalized the
>    language to "Debian operating system distributions" instead of
>    "Debian GNU/Linux Distribution".
> 3) The DFSG is, in my opinion, a separate work from the Social Contract,
>    and has a different scope.  I have tweaked the wording of SC #1 so
>    that people don't always expect to find the text of the DFSG "below".
>    I do not seek to stop us from distributing the documents together,
>    however, and this proposal has no bearing on such a decision.
> 4) This proposal expands the language of our committment to freedom
>    beyond just "software".  This proposal does not call for a renaming
>    of the DFSG, however, nor for the creation of another document to
>    provide guidelines for "non-software" works.
> 5) "feed back bug-fixes" felt like an awkward construction to me.  This
>    is an editorial, not a semantic, change.
> 6) I expanded the contractions "we'll" to "we will" and "won't" to "will
>    not"; another editorial change.
> 7) The GCIDE prefers "online" to "on-line", and so do I; this is an
>    editorial change.
> 8) We cannot literally commit to bug reports becoming publicly visible
>    "immediately".  We can commit to "promptly", however, and explicitly
>    spell out what was left implicit in the origianl Social Contract: we
>    will not have a staff of gatekeepers deciding which bug reports get
>    to be seen by the public, as practically all commercial software
>    interests do.
> 9) I have expanded the premise of SC #3 to cover grounds other than just
>    the BTS and technical problems in our products.  Back in 1998, a lot
>    of non-technical discussions took place on -private (such as the
>    discussion of the Social Contract itself), but Debian has evolved
>    away from that, and nowadays traffic on -private is far more
>    restricted.  I propose amending SC #3 to reflect this evolution, and
>    our need for greater transparency in accountability so that our
>    Project works better not just for the sake of the Free Software
>    community, but for our own developers, who are far more numerous now
>    than they were in 1998.  Our committment to the principles in my
>    proposed clause 3 will help us ensure that we scale to meet the
>    demands placed on us by our larger (and still increasing) size.
> 10) I propose "free software community" instead of "free-software
>     community"; an editorial change.  The concept of "free software" has
>     gained currency over the past 5 years as the GNU/Linux has increased
>     its profile, and I think we can afford to refer to it as such in our
>     Social Contract without confusing too many people.
> 11) I changed "To support the goals" to "In furtherance of these goals";
>     an editorial change that implies (to me, anyway) more forceful and
>     directed action.
> 12) In both clause 1 and clause 5, I have replaced the phrase "100% free
>     software" with other constructions that are, hopefully, less
>     ambiguous, especially to those who must translate the Social
>     Contract into other languages.  (This is not a made-up problem; it
>     was brought to the attention of the debian-legal list earlier this
>     year.)
> 13) Clause 5 has been stricken entirely.  *This amendment does NOT
>     mandate the removal of the non-free section from anything,
>     anywhere.*  What it does do is withdraw our commitment to provide a
>     "non-free section" via a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) archive
>     specifically.  This makes it possible for us to decide, in the near
>     or distant future, to stop distributing the non-free section without
>     violating our own Social Contract.
> I am seeking seconds and editorial amendments to this proposed General
> Resolution.
> The full texts of the existing Social Contract as it stands, and as it
> would appear if the above amendments were accepted, are MIME-attached.
> (The draft also include a prominent notice of its unofficial status,
> too, of course, so that no one is confused.)

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