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Re: A GNU “social contract”?

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: A GNU “social contract”?
Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2020 17:12:16 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.10.1 (2018-07-13)

Dear Mark,

On behalf of whom are you making these documents?

Is there authorization by RMS? Is it possible to see your

Without it, such document is not holding water.

In relation to your document see my comments below:

* Mark Wielaard <> [2020-01-02 13:43]:
> Thanks. Attached is an updated version and a diff with this change and
> a few other small nitpicks mainly aimed at making the text more
> concise.
> - Put the introduction text in one paragraph.
> - Add "all" users for which the Four Essential Freedoms should hold.

To add "all" users is not necessary, as the freedom zero is very clear
that it is for everybody.

See: and where it says:
"The freedom to run the program means the freedom for any kind of
person or organization to use it on any kind of computer system, for
any kind of overall job and purpose, without being required to
communicate about it with the developer or any other specific
entity. "

Thus "all" users is not necessary, as that would mean nobody is
reading the actual freedom, but focus on your "social contract" which
is not "social" at all.

> - Remove extra explanations from the Four Essential Freedoms.
>   They are self-evident and make the text longer than necessary.

Four freedoms are not self-evident, and they must be detailed and that
is why there exists GNU General Public License which defines the

I do not see where your reasoning comes from. How about hiring an
attorney to draft it for you? Try asking for help and assistance by
professionals in the field of legalities.

> GNU Social Contract
> These are the core commitments of the GNU Project to the broader free
> software community.  The GNU Project provides a software system that
> respect users' freedoms.

GNU project was always for any type of community, and I do not know
why are you insisting with words "broader" -- as there is no
limitation who can use GNU software. GNU project does not provide just
software system, rather it is project to build fully free operating

Software system and operating system are not same in its meanings.

In general, all that you write about is totally not necessary, I
cannot see what are your purposes, in fact I see your actions as
animosity towards the original GNU project, so you are not explaining
what really bothers you, and what is really your problem.

Could you tell on the list what is your real problem?

I cannot see what new you are introducing here. I just got a feeling
you have some serious undeclared problem.

> * The GNU Project respects users' freedoms

It was always like that, since beginning, so why now "social" contract
which is not social at all?

Or social means you and Ludovic?

> The GNU Project provides software that guarantees to all users the
> /Four Essential Freedoms/, without compromise:
>   0. The freedom to run the program as they wish, for any purpose.
>   1. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does
>      their computing as they wish.
>   2. The freedom to redistribute copies so they can help others.
>   3. The freedom to distribute copies of their modified versions to
> others.

Some GNU GPL licenses guarantee some specific certain freedoms, but
GNU Project shall not guarantee anything to users. It is creation,
things can go wrong, servers can go down, there shall be no guarantee
by GNU project.

If you mention any type of guarantees you would need to mention "by
what" exactly you would guarantee it.

GNU GPL license guarantees certain specific freedoms and it guarantees
it by the law. However, so many laws exists on this world, that its
real guarantee cannot be ensured by anything. It is more a type of
friendly agreement than enforcable legality.

And if some software of GNU project is licensed by some other free
software license, I am not sure if that would be compatible with those
four guaranteed four freedoms.

Further, explaining four freedoms in some short manner deviates from
the actual thought and idea that is explained here:

You cannot just shorten the idea that has to be communicated to the
public and assume it is self-evident.

Further, there are no warranties by GNU GPL license, while certain
freedoms by license are guaranteed by law, if you say that you wish
GNU project to guarantee for those four freedoms your are legally
jeopardizing the GNU project, putting it at legal risks, finally you
are trying to make a "social" contract.

Legally, it makes no sense at all.

Friendly, it is not necessary for GNU project, as all those issues
have been handled long time ago.

Let me comment more:

> The GNU Project adopts policies that encourage and enable developers
> to actively defend user freedom.

Vague definition of "policies" opens the door to all kinds of

> These policies include using /copyleft licenses/, designed to ensure
> that users’ freedoms cannot be stripped off, when appropriate.

They include, but not exclude many other unspoken policies that you
have not mentioned there, so why not be right now very transparent?

Did you mention "policies"? So where are those "policies"?

The free software philosophy is not based on policies. It is based on
very much social activity of agreeing to each other and by those basic
fundamental principles of agreement people come together, they join
and create free software.

There is no need to engage into any kind of policing or policies.

> Besides upholding the Four Essential Freedoms, the GNU Project pays
> attention and responds to new threats to users' freedom as they
> arise.

GNU project is there to make a free operating system and its operation
is based on free software philosophy.

While there are many new threats to users' freedom, main purpose of
GNU project is to provide free operating system which purpose is being

To enforce "social" contract so that "GNU project" must respond to new
threats to users' freedom is way too much coercive.

GNU project worked since long time by friendly agreements, spoken or
unspoken. It works now, as of today, very well by agreements, there is
no need to enforce onto people anything. It is not a government.

What you are here proposing is prime example of collectivism versus

GNU project is not based on collectivism theory. That is when smaller
group of people are trying to impose certain rules for majority. That
is exactly what you are imposing here.

It is based on individiualism. That is much more liberal and freedom


In GNU project we let people individually decide how they wish to
contribute and we allow them to contribute software or other

We do not impose any rules, policies or contracts onto them.

> * The GNU Project collaborates with the broader free software community
> Free software extends beyond the GNU Project, which works with
> companion free software projects that develop key components of the
> GNU System.  The GNU Project aims to extend the reach of free
> software to new fields.

I do not think it is good to coerce community into something you think
it should be done, whereby you have not get their consents.

"broader" free software community is not defined well, then it is open
to interpretations. Placing terms not well defined into any social
contract put the people in power into better position, that is
contradictory to principles of "users' freedom".

It is contradictory to principles of individualism that GNU project
welcomes everybody' contributions, and that now GNU project shall
collaborate with "broader" free software community.

It is not well defined, not well written, who knows what you wish to
say here. I do not know.

Do you mean maybe "open source" community? What is "broader" free
software community?

> * The GNU Project welcomes contributions from all and everyone

That was clear since beginning.

> The GNU Project wants to give everyone the opportunity of
> contributing to its efforts on any of the many tasks that require
> work.  It welcomes all contributors, regardless of their gender,
> ethnicity, sexual orientation, level of experience, or any other
> personal characteristics.  It commits to providing a harassment-free
> experience for all contributors.

That is already clear and was clear since decades.


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