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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

On Wed, Nov 05, 2003 at 04:33:04AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Mon, Nov 03, 2003 at 01:01:47PM +0100, Peter Makholm wrote:
> > I support Branden's proposal but I don't support the removal of
> > non-free. 
> Branden's proposal has the first clause read:
> 	Debian Will Remain 100% Free
> 	We promise to preserve your right to freely use, modify and
> 	distribute Debian operating system distributions. [...] Every
> 	work contained in our distributions will satisfy those guidelines.
> 	[...]
> and removes any counterbalancing mention of distributing non-free software
> as well.
> How do you square Debian continuing to distribute non-free software with
> our promise to remain "100% free", and the promise that "every work in
> our distributions will satisfy [the DFSG]"?

The same way we always have; by claiming that non-free isn't "part of
our distribution".

If that answer is unsatisfactory to you, I'd be interested in hearing
your thoughts on how we can be forceful about our dedication to
remaining 100% free software in clause while while continuing to
distribute things that aren't free software.

> If you do not feel that doing so would violate the letter, the intent
> or the spirit of the revised social contract, how do you envisage it
> having any moral force at all?

I would have thought that leaving non-free alone while we study the
issue, and come to a full understanding of what we want to do with it
and why, would be the pragmatic[1] thing to do.

The thrust of removing clause 5 from the Social Contract is that
distributing non-free works is not central to our mission, and not a
fundamental aspect of our covenant with the Free Software community with
whom the Social Contract is forged.

I think we can tolerate distribution of non-free works as a peripheral
activity, like running qmail on murphy[2][3] as long as we're clear that
that's what it is, and especially if we are earnestly pursuing an
understanding of whether or not it's a peripheral activity we need to be
engaged in at all.

[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2003/debian-vote-200311/msg00135.html
[2] http://www.debian.org/News/weekly/2002/35/
[3] Yes, I advocated migrating murphy from qmail to a DFSG-free MTA[4],
    but I didn't claim running qmail on our machines was violation of
    the Social Contract; just bad PR.
[4] http://www.debian.org/vote/2002/platforms/branden

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    Yeah, that's what Jesus would do.
branden@debian.org                 |    Jesus would bomb Afghanistan. Yeah.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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