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Re: Request for GR: clarifying the license text licensing / freeness issue

Josip Rodin <joy@keid.carnet.hr> writes:

> Yes, the social contract says that the Debian system and all of its
> components will be fully free; but for all practical intents and
> purposes (heh), the accompanying license texts are as much a
> "component" of the "system" as is the media the system is
> distributed on.

I don't see the relevance of this. If you're referring to the
GPL-specific exception for source code (that components of the target
system don't need to be distributed with source), that doesn't seem to
be relevant at all: this is about the license terms for a text, not
whether source code must be distributed.

> Yes, you can't do without it, but you also can't start obsessing on
> it because the matter can soon get absurd after that. (There is no
> free hardware to run it on, oh my!)

When hardware is something distributable by the Debian project as part
of Debian, then this might be relevant; it isn't an issue with current

License texts *are* distributed by Debian, now, under terms that are
non-free. This behaviour doesn't match the Social Contract.

> Lawyers would likely ask us - what would be the legal purpose of
> addressing this concern?

Why would lawyers ask us that, and why are their questions about the
Social Contract germane here? It's not a legally-binding document.

> Trying to "clarify" the social contract by elaborating on peripheral
> things that aren't immediately obvious, is basically nitpicking, and
> it shouldn't be done.

I would think thazt *only* things which are immediately obvious are
exempt from the need for clarification. Anything else needs to at
least be considered on its merits, and not dismissed because it's "not
immediately obvious".

> Also, nobody cares for statements that can be normalized to 'you can
> do all this, except that, that, that, and that', and those should
> also be avoided if we want readers to take the spirit of the
> document seriously.

I don't see how that's at all true. Contrariwise, I would hope you
agree that a document that says "we will always do this, and never do
that", but which is routinely violated in practice, is one that
readers will not take seriously.

 \      "Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done |
  `\                                         for me?"  -- Groucho Marx |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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