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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

On Wed, Nov 05, 2003 at 12:59:23AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> Does supporting non-free software have a moral value for *you*?  

Yes, it does, and twice over at that.

First, while we have our own definition of free software, there's nothing
absolute about that. Reasonable people can disagree on particular points,
thinking they're either too strict or too lenient, and reasonable people
can think this entire business of "freedom" for software is a whole lot
of nonsense. I think that allowing people who believe that, and write
software according to those beliefs, to put their software in Debian,
and get almost all the benefits of the Debian project is an important
gesture of cooperation, which seems to me to be the reason why we like
free software in the first place.

For instance, at some point in the near future, we're likely to decide
that our definition of freedom is different enough from the FSF's that
we're not willing to consider any of their documentation to be "free".
Acknowledging that that's just our opinion by having it only affect the
categorisation of the software, not the quality of their maintenance is
an important way of ensuring that disagreements don't get out of hand,
in my opinion.

Further, some of those reasonable people who disagree might be developers.
Letting them put their work in the Debian archive until either they
convince the rest of the project to change their view, or vice-versa,
seems far more open and amicable than insisting their software is
unsatisfactory and has no place anywhere near Debian.

Second, our users still aren't able to do everything they might like
to with free software; they can't play Flash games, they can't look
at Quicktime movies, they can't do internet banking with Java clients,
and they can't do a bunch of other things. Some of those things can be
ameliorated with non-free, although fewer are than is possible since
non-free hasn't been being maintained at the level it ought to be.

Letting such users get their work done easily and effectively with Debian
lets them have the benefits of running free software for most of their
work, and lets us have the benefit of having them contribute back to us.

> If so,
> can you explain how that moral value is contingent upon the opinions of
> your peers[3]?

What I work on myself is contingent on what I think. What I work on within
Debian is contingent on both what I think, and what the Debian project in
general thinks.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

Australian DMCA (the Digital Agenda Amendments) Under Review!
	-- http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/blog/copyright/digitalagenda

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