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Re: RFC: criteria A4 should be a C-class criteria

From: Aaron Wolf
Subject: Re: RFC: criteria A4 should be a C-class criteria
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2021 20:59:55 -0800

This proposal seems too strong to me. The criterion is already there as A4.

Consider the analogy to the inclusion of GNU software in other software
distribution channels. Obviously, GNU software *may* be legally
distributed alongside non-free software, e.g. most Linux distros include
non-free software and GNU software. Do we want to go so far as to say
that while they are *allowed* to do this, no GNU project should be
encouraged to officially support the inclusion?

Would you oppose a GNU maintainer actively working with Ubuntu to get
the GNU software included in Ubuntu or even in macOS or Windows for that
matter? It's one thing to criticize the way those systems include
non-free software. It's another to suggest it's wrong for free software
to be included there. We *want* free software to reach as wide an
audience as possible.

The line we would draw is that if the distribution itself 100% respects
the license and freedoms, it's okay. So, Ubuntu including GNU software
is not only legally fine, it's generally positive. The problem isn't the
GNU inclusion, only the inclusion of non-free software. But distributing
GNU software through Apple's App Store with it's restrictive terms would
be a violation of the GNU licenses. They don't actually pass on the
freedoms to the end users, so it's unacceptable for a GNU program to
accept Apple's restrictions.

I think this is analogous for these web repos. The minimum criteria
involve assuring that people can indeed enjoy 100% freedom in engaging
with the GNU software at and through the repo. The fact that some repos
also *separately* provide non-free software is a *concern* but not
something that actually interferes with anyone's freedom when they
engage with the free software only.

In short:

- minimum: all the freedoms are fully intact without encumbrance
- extra ideals: the context is strongly aligned with software freedom in
messaging etc

Moving A4 to the C level wouldn't fit this. Furthermore, it would
undermine our clout. You know the "what the hell" effect? If you set the
bar *too* high, people decide to give up caring about the issue at all.
We don't want a situation where any host that won't exclude non-free
software effectively decides there's no incentive to consider *any*
software freedom issues since nothing they do will get them past a
"failing" grade.

On 2021-03-11 7:41 p.m., bill-auger wrote:
> i suggest that the 'A' classification of A4 is inconsistent with
> the stated goal of this project
>> A4 - Does not permit nonfree licenses (or lack of license) for
>>      works for practical use.
> all of the web forges that i know of, freely offer VCS clones
> and source-ball downloads of every public repo, regardless of
> it's license (or lack thereof) - i am not aware of any web forge
> which allows the repo maintainer to disallow downloads of
> unlicensed works - given that, any local copies taken of any
> parts of an unlicensed work, would be a blatant copyright
> violation; surely, this (anti-)feature fails any test of "ethics"
> secondly, consider the 'C' class description:
>> C — Acceptable hosting for a GNU package
> surely, a "nonfree licenses (or lack of license)" is not
> acceptable for a GNU package; which already implies that A4
> is a class 'C' criteria
> i propose that A4 is moved to the median level ('C') of
> "ethical repository criteria"
> furthermore, AFAIK, all web forges support hosting repos with
> private-only/invitation-only access; so i also propose qualifying
> the criteria, to pertain only to publicly distributed works - it
> should be acceptable, for anyone who wants to store WIP code on
> one of these forges, but without choosing a license, to host it
> with private or invite-only access, before deciding on a license
> - so, A4 should not be presented as an optional bonus feature -
> it is not an unreasonable expectation, as a fundamental criteria
> WRT public distribution - eg:
>> A4 - (deleted)
>> C7 - Permits public distribution of works for practical use,
>>      only if they are freely-licensed.
> the initial result of 'C7', would be that all forges currently
> listed and under evaluation, except for savannah, would fail
> to meet the 'C' level criteria; because AFAIK, savannah is the
> only forge in existence, which meets the A4 criteria, even in
> it's current form
> it appears that A4 was put at the 'A' level originally, only such
> that it allowed _any_ forge other than savannah, to be deemed as
> acceptable - there are many more public forges in operation now,
> than there were when this project was started, which are on-par
> with, or exceed gitlab's original ranking; and many
> full-featured libre self-hosting options are available - i think
> that there is ample justification for dispensing with such
> concessions now; and categorize any forge which offers
> unauthorized copies of unlicensed works, as unacceptable
> "ethically"

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