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Re: [all candidates] Return to the desert island (cont.)

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On 20-03-13 00:46, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 11:39:29PM +0100, Jérémy Bobbio wrote:
>> 3. One test I've been taught to use to reason about free software
>> is the Desert Island test [2] which starts by:
>> Imagine a castaway on a desert island with a solar-powered 
>> computer.
>> Obviously, software that are only frontends to unreproducible
>> “cloud” services do not pass the desert island test.
> This is a mischaracterization of the "Desert Island test" as it
> was formulated on debian-legal.  The Desert Island test is about
> whether a user can *comply with the license* of the software on a
> desert island when they have no contact with the outside world.
> That the software may not be *useful* to them on a desert island is
> a separate question, and applies to many sorts of software, not
> just those used for connecting to particular services over the
> Internet.

To make this easier to understand, I find it's useful to remember that
while the "Desert Island" test is a useful tool in making a quick
determination of the DFSG-freeness of a piece of software, it is not
part of the DFSG and therefore is not authoritative in deciding
whether software is free. Only the DFSG is.

A piece of software that fails the "Desert Island" test usually fails
a combination of DFSG1 (free redistribution) and DFSG3 (derived
works): if you need to talk to the original author and/or request
permission to use and/or modify the software, there is no free
redistribution and there isn't really a right to make derived works.
Depending on the actual terms of the license, it *may* also fail DFSG2
(source code), which explicitly states "...must allow distribution in
source code as well as compiled form", which again may be problematic
if permission needs to be requested.

If a piece of software appears to fail the "Desert Island" test but
does not fail any of those parts of the DFSG, then it probably didn't
fail the "Desert Island" test to begin with.

(and no, before someone falls in that trap, software that fails the
"Desert Island" test does *not* fail DFSG5 (no discrimination against
persons or groups) or DFSG6 (no discrimination against fields of
endeavour) -- these are completely different beasts)

Programs or libraries that only exist as a frontend to a cloud service
do not fail any of the terms of the DFSG as far as I can see, and
therefore should not be moved out of main.

- -- 
Copyshops should do vouchers. So that next time some bureaucracy
requires you to mail a form in triplicate, you can mail it just once,
add a voucher, and save on postage.
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