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Re: DFSG#10

On Sun, May 23, 2004 at 05:19:40PM +0200, Tore Anderson wrote:
>   This is what I don't follow.  I've been trying very hard to understand
>  how it was logically possible to interpret the old social contract like
>  that, with no luck.
>   To be able to make the distinction, one would also have to forget about
>  the mathematical fact that "100%" refer to the whole thing, alternatively
>  concede that we have always violated the social contract by distributing
>  "copyrighted works distributable in digital form" (which are not
>  "software").

The whole what?

The whole of the software?

>   The social contract never read "Debian Will Remain 80% Free Software and
>  20% Copyrighted Works Distributable In Digital Form (Which Are Not
>  Software)", nor "100% Of The Software In Debian Will Remain Free".  As I
>  read the old SC, and I can see no other way, it would have had to instead
>  read something like one of my above examples for Mr. Towns' interpretation
>  to be logically possible.

Sure, but that claim can be easily looked at as a claim that the software
in question all be 100% free.

Note that I don't claim that this is the only possible interpretation
of the social contract.

Note also that I do claim that this interpretation is no longer viable
after the editorial changes.

>   For Debian to be "100% Free Software", it first must be "100% Software",
>  right?
>   I'm entirely willing to be educated where I'm wrong.

If Debian is 100% software, does that mean developers can't be a part of
Debian?  What about mirror servers?  What about mailing lists?  What about
passwords?  What about licenses?  What about printed materials?  etc.
Are these not parts of Debian?  Are they 100% software?

One issue here is that "Debian" is an adjective, and you have to dub
in the noun.  If that noun is "Software", you get a different meaning
than if that noun is "Copyrighted Works".  As it happens, the updated
social contract uses the noun "System" -- a somewhat ambiguous noun,
but to some degree that ambiguity is good because it lets us branch out
into new things (new distributions for new architectures, most likely).

>   I always assumed that there were no ambiguity, and that the Sarge RC
>  policy deliberately violated the social contract on a few select issues,
>  in the name of pragmatism.  Not that it was immoral to do so - there was
>  not any uproar against it, and my impression was that the developers
>  found it to be an okay thing to do while we awaited the talks with the
>  FSF to progress and so on.

Apparently you missed out on some of the discussions earlier this year
on what the social contract "really means".

Unfortunately, the "editorial changes" and the "substantial changes"
were proposed concurrently, with some confusion about which was the
point of discussion.

Also, unfortunately, there was quite a bit of rhetoric aimed against
people -- which probably made some of those people a bit shy about
expressing their views.   [Personally, I think rhetoric aimed against
people is wrong -- if the people in question are wrong about something
then it's much more useful to address what they are saying, and the
underlying issues.]

>   I'm reluctant to vote for a resolution that acknowledges that the
>  changes made to the social contract were anything but editorial.  I'd
>  much rather just override the RM so that the old RC policy is reinstated,
>  in the spite of the fact that is violating the social contract.  But I
>  guess there won't be a fitting option on the ballot for me..

You undoubtably know this already, but:

If you like none of the proposals, you can of course propose your own.
Or, if it's not clear to you what you should propose, you can vote for
further discussion if the vote is held before you've made up your mind.

That said, I've not seen any convincing arguments that indicate that
the social contract was not more ambiguous before the editorial changes.


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