Re: Request for GR: clarifying the license text licensing/freeness issue
>> Historically, this exception has been an unwritten assumption; in most
>> discussions, this exception has been agreed on by everyone involved.
Wouter Verhelst wrote:
>If that is the case, then why would it be necessary to write this down
>in the DFSG? Personally, I don't think we need to go through all this
Although most people agreed that there should be an exception, their
mental ideas about the reason for the exception seem to have varied
wildly. (For the extreme case, a lot of people honestly thought license
texts were excepted because they were not executable binaries.)
Only more recently has there been some sort of approximate-consensus
rationale for it, which is the rationale I stated.
>effort just so that nutcases can no longer use "But look, we do this
>for license texts, too" as an argument. They're nutcases, anyway.
I don't think they were all nutcases -- the difference between this
exception and other proposed exceptions is not immediately obvious,
though I think I explained it in the parent post.
I think there's near-consensus on this -- but I also think it isn't so
obvious that it can go without saying, and is so common that it cannot
afford to be relegated to the DFSG FAQ. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway, two other reasons were given in the parent post:
(1) "However, unwritten exceptions are not really a good idea.
It is more honest and straightforward to Debian's users to state the
exception outright.... It is better to have all exceptions upfront, so
that Debian's users know exactly what they are getting."
Frankly I was surprised when I first noticed the "verbatim
copying only" statements. I may be in a minority, but I don't think I'm
unique. I think a "Social Contract" should be readable like a contract:
well-written contracts don't have implied, unwritten exceptions to
otherwise clear text. Again, your mileage may vary.
(2) "However, Debian should encourage the licensing of license texts
so that derivative license texts are allowed."
Currently Debian takes no position on this. I think it should, much
as it takes a position on patch clauses. A counterproposal might
decide that Debian does *not* care about the licensing of license
texts, period. Or might confirm that Debian takes no position on this
(while still specifying that license texts have an exception).