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Re: {SPAM} Re: Anton's amendment

On Thu, Feb 02, 2006 at 03:56:45PM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
> Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> writes:

> >         I have been thinking about this (originally brought up by
> >  Russ). I have also been re-reading the SC/DFSG, and the time they
> >  were written. I also started with the idea that the SC/DFSG are  to
> >  be considered to be consistent, unless strong evidence exists to the
> >  contrary.

> >         So, the DFSG are what they say they are --
> >  guidelines. However, some licenses were deemed by the project to be
> >  de-facto free, even if they do contravene some of the guidelines,
> >  hence explicitly naming the GPL and the bsd  licenses. The naming
> >  them specifically removes the requirement that they meet all the
> >  guidelines.

> Admittedly, I'm somewhat new to these parts, but I've been following this
> discussion for long enough that I'm pretty uncomfortable with this
> interpretation.  It doesn't seem to match what other people have said
> about the beginnings of the DFSG and feels contrary to the language of the
> DFSG.  The DFSG specifically calls those licenses *examples*, not
> exceptions, which isn't the language that I'd expect to be used if this
> was the case.

> I'd be a lot more comfortable with an interpretation that says that
> anything in the GPLv2 or four-clause BSD (the Artistic License has the
> problem of not being clearly written and is hard to use for comparison
> purposes) that appears to contradict the DFSG indicates that the DFSG
> aren't being applied in the manner that they were intended to be applied.

While I wasn't around for the drafting and approval of the DFSG,
conversations I've had since then (debian-legal, etc.) suggest that it's
closer to the truth that the bothersome 2c clause of GPLv2 probably wasn't
even noticed by most people involved, because it's so rarely invoked.  I.e.,
even if 2c *is* non-free, GPLv2 would still be free in the common case
because most GPL works are interactive (either command-line or GUI) and
don't include such announcements, so there's no requirement to include one
when modifying the work.

I suppose the idea of a "sometimes-DFSG-compliant" GPL isn't much more
attractive, but this isn't the only clause in the GPL that's been considered
borderline in the past: plenty of people think that a GPL which lacked the
3a option for source code distribution would be non-free, because of the
data retention obligations imposed by 3b.

Anyway, whether you consider these bits of the GPL kosher or not, I do agree
with you that the DFSG shouldn't be read as treating GPL and BSD as getting
special exceptions.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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