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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [OT] Debian should move all GPL sw to non-free

From: Tom Lord
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [OT] Debian should move all GPL sw to non-free
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 2004 07:29:20 -0800 (PST)

I'll read and address various arguments later (see, I'm really _not_
spending all of my time on this) however:

Jblack and Cameron have both now raised the question the importance of
the "GFDL question".  As Jblack put it:

    I hope that this is really something that matters enough in the
    day to day life of hackers that it warrents such fancy workups.

Of course, it's very important, at least to the degree you believe
that free software in general is important.

Free software licensing is what we programmers use to mutually protect
some of one another's freedoms and the freedoms of our users.  It is
what we use to reduce the degree to which we become alienated from the
product of our labor.

It took RMS, the GNU project, and the Free Software Foundation many
years to educate people about copyleft, free software licensing and
reach a point where many people not directly connected with those
groups took it seriously and even themselves used it.

The Open Source Initiative and, in general, much of the commercial
activity around free and open source software obscured that message.
It played down the importance of some of the freedoms GPL and similar
licenses are meant to protect.  It published weaker standards for
licensing which are taken seriously.  It created the threat (if not
actuality) of a backslide in the vigilence with which programmers seek
out and protect their freedoms.

The Debian project is in many ways one of the largest non-FSF
organizations whose goals and principles are closely aligned with the
FSF.  Certainly there are long-standing areas of disagreement (for
example, whether Debian should have a non-free section at all) -- but
there are many more points of agreement in spirit and practice.

The Debian project is large and influential.   Essentially
democratically self-governing.   And by nearly all reports does
excellent work.

For such reasons, the Debian project is now another voice in the world
which, whether it is the goal of the project or not, serves to educate
people about software freedoms and software licensing.

When Debian takes the position that GFDL is not free, many people
listen to that.  We can expect many people to uncritically take
Debian's word for it.  If Debian's collective reasoning to reach the
conclusion that GFDL is not free is flawed, then many people are
misled.   The potential for an OSI-like backslide is significant.

So, yes, I think the GFDL question is important in the day to day life
of hackers.


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