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Re: non-free and users?

Raul Miller wrote:
> > I wish I knew why you think it's evil for Debian to distribute non-free.
> > 
> > You've stated that it's an ethical issue for you.  You've drawn an analogy
> > with illegal drugs.  You've stated that it's not good for Debian's
> > developers or users [regardless of any good that the software does,
> > and regardless of any freeness in that software].
> > 
> > But your arguments seem to be circular -- without basis.

On Sat, Jan 17, 2004 at 04:43:13PM +0100, Sergey V. Spiridonov wrote:
> I will try to present an example. Let's say we have program 'A' without 
> permition to distribute modified sources. It's not absolutely non-free - 
> you have freedom to learn how program works, to modify it for your own 
> needs, to distribute it without modifications. It is unique and there is 
> no free analog.
> If developer agrees with such a limitation he is not able to modify this 
> program to help his friend to adapt it for his needs. Developer will not 
> be able to distribute modifications to others who also need such an 
> improvenment. This contradicts human ethics, because help is ethical.
> Any single person can decide to ignore this non-ethical limitation on 
> helping other people (and will act ethical, because helping other people 
> is more ethical than violating the will of author in this case). Debian 
> is not able to act this way because of the legal issues (and legality is 
> important, otherwise Debian will not survive). So, by agreeing to such a 
> licence, Debian compel himself to non-ethical actions.

Ok, I agree this is an issue.

But, it's just one constraint -- there are other issues.  The most
important ones are:

[*] program 'A' also has value as reading material

[*] if program 'A' is modular, Developer might adapt it to his friend's
needs without modifying it (by changing the environment in which it

[*] preventing the distribution of program 'A' to people who need it
also contradicts human ethics (unless something at least as adequate
for that need is distributed instead).

I do think it's important to let people know to have lower expectations
for non-free software than for software in main.  I think we need to do
this better than what we're doing now.

I don't see a basis here for preventing distribution of all of non-free
by Debian.

I do agree that there's an ethical problem here, but I think a blanket
prohibition on non-free makes that problem a worse problem.

To use your medical analogy, this is something like triage (sorting
patients in emergency medicine).  If we sort packages based on likely
benefit, we should exclude from non-free software which has not enough
benefit or negative benefit.  But there should still be a place in
non-free for software which has positive benefit, even if that benefit
is not the highest benefit.



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