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Re: Proposal: Source code is important for all works in Debian, and required for programmatic ones

I second this proposal.

On Thu, Aug 24, 2006 at 11:51:51PM -0700, Don Armstrong wrote:
> I'd like to propose the following option to the current GR process.
> As I will (starting late sunday PDT) be away for a week and a few days
> at Burning Man,[i] I will be unable to appropriately respond to
> corrections and suggested amendments during that time. However, I will
> do so immediately at my return.
> ======================================================================
> The Free Software movement is about enabling users to modify the works
> that they use on their computer; about giving users the same
> information that copyright holders and upstream developers have. As
> such, a critical part of the Free Software movement is the
> availability of source (that is, the form of the work that a copyright
> holder or developer would use to actually modify the work) to users.
> This makes sure that users are not held hostage by the whims (or lack
> of interest or financial incentive) of upstreams and copyright
> holders.
> Different types of works have different forms of source. For some
> works, the preferred form for modification may not actually be
> digitally transferable.[1] For others, the form that originally was
> preferred may have been destroyed at some point in time, and is no
> longer available to anyone. However, to the greatest extent
> possible,[2] the availability of source code to users is a critical
> aspect of having the freedom to modify the software that is running
> upon ones computer.
> Recognizing this, the Debian Project:
>   A. Reaffirms that programmatic works distributed in the Debian
>      system (IE, in main) must be 100% Free Software, regardless of
>      whether the work is designed to run on the CPU, a subsidiary
>      processing unit, or by some other form of execution. That is,
>      works must include the form that the copyright holder or upstream
>      developer would actually use for modification.
>   B. Strongly recommends that all non-programmatic works distribute
>      the form that the copyright holder or upstream developer would
>      actually use for modification. Such forms need not be distributed
>      in the orig.tar.gz (unless required by license) but should be
>      made available on upstream websites and/or using Debian project
>      resources.
>   C. Reaffirms its continued support of users whose hardware (or
>      software) requires works which are not freely licensed or whose
>      source is not available by making such works available in
>      non-free and providing project resources to the extent that
>      Debian is capable of doing so.
>   D. Requests that vendors of hardware, even those whose firmware is
>      not loaded by the operating system, provide the prefered form for
>      modification so that purchasers of their hardware are can
>      exercise their freedom to modify the functioning of their
>      hardware.
> 1: Consider film negatives, or magnetic tape in the case of audio
>    recordings.
> 2: Here it must be emphasized that we refer to "technically possible"
>    or "possible for some party" as opposed to "legally possible for
>    Debian". We also assume digital distribution, and do not attempt to
>    require the distribution of physical objects.
> =======================================================================
> Obvious points for discussion:
> 1. I would really like to be able to commit to some form of
>    installation support for users who need to be able to use non-free
>    firmware to install their system; some more work is needed in d-i
>    land, though to make sure that this is separated out and that it's
>    trivial to have a Free system, and know that what you're
>    installing/using/distributing is Free Software.
> 2. Distributing the huge source forms for non-programmatic works is
>    going to be a problem. I don't think they're needed in the
>    orig.tar.gz, because that would needlessly bloat the archive, and
>    it's probably not required unless the works are copylefted.
>    However, we should make an effort to encourage upstreams to make
>    them available and likewise make them available to our users. [Even
>    if it's just in people.debian.org/~you/ or similar and mentioned in
>    the copyright file, it'd be a good step.]
> 3. If there is substantial objection to D, I will probably remove it;
>    however firmware, whether we happen to distribute it or not, is a
>    hazard to user's freedom to modify the functioning of their
>    computers.
> 4. Finally, if in the context of the release of etch, we need to
>    compromise our ideals and accept programmatic works without source,
>    we should do so by specifically exempting them from DFSG 2 for the
>    purpose of releasing etch by a GR which needs to meet the 3:1
>    requirement instead of attempting to define ourselves into such a
>    position, especially when source code is clearly a desirable thing
>    to have from our users and our perspective.
> Don Armstrong
> i: At Big Time; usually somewhere around 9:30 and Hope (outer ring)
> with multiple domes (big-ish to small) and a few mobile domes as well
> in case someone wants to find me. ;-)
> -- 
> "There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the    
> right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself."
>  -- Bach 
> http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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