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Re: Question to all candidates: Ongoing/future legal projects

Hi Molly,

On Fri, Mar 18, 2022 at 5:42 AM Molly dB <deblanc@riseup.net> wrote:
> I'd like to hear about where you draw the line between individual
> issues and community wide issues. To use an example of copyright
> claims: Would it be Debian's responsibility if someone raised a
> copyright claim against an individual for their participation in
> Debian? Alternatively: If a Debian contributor (maintainer, developer,
> etc) was being harassed due to their involvement with the project, what
> responsibilities do you think the project would have to them? Do you
> think there's a significant difference if the copyright claim (or
> harassment) is coming from inside the Debian community or outside?

In my case, your questions are somewhat misdirected. I intend to
exercise very few of the broad presidential powers available to the
project leader under the constitution. I hope instead to devolve the
concentration of power from my office into an open and transparent
system of boards and commissions that enjoy broad community support.

As with your previous question, I will try to give you at least a
personal answer. Please consider, however, that I've had no legal
counsel. I have also not spoken to the leadership of other, comparable
projects to seek advice. By comparison my opponent Jonathan, who is
also the incumbent, may have had the benefit of both. Your questions
put me at a considerable disadvantage, but I will try to answer you as
best as I can.

My current position is that every contributor is responsible for their
own actions. An indemnity for copyright claims is inappropriate
because suits would become more attractive. Lawyers seek deep pockets.

By the way, that part of your question connects in an important way to
the topic of incorporation raised by Christian Kastner yesterday: Did
Debian survive for so long in part because there was no organization
to sue? Is that why we had the luxury of being on bad terms with the
FSF? Faced with a suit from a patent troll, would we not huddle and
cower with any friend we can find? EFF, anyone?

The harassment case is easily distinguished in that (1) the victim
seeks to initiate legal action instead of needing help with a defense,
and (2) the project's survival is not at risk—unless the victim sues
Debian as well.

For harassment originating inside Debian, the project has (or will
soon have) an appropriate disciplinary process. That is the extent of
Debian's responsibility.

Individual members additionally seeking legal remedies for harassment
should please avail themselves of any court willing to hear their
claims, at their own expense. I believe that some folks have done so
with great success.

As project leader, I would defer your questions to the membership.

For my sense of community, please allow me to leave you with a quote
from John F. Kennedy, which is inscribed at Harvard's Kennedy School
of Government: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you
can do for your country."

Thank you for your complex set of follow-up questions!

Kind regards,
Felix Lechner

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