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

From: bill-auger
Subject: Re: RFC: criteria A4 should be a C-class criteria
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2021 07:31:22 -0500

On Thu, 11 Mar 2021 20:59:55 -0800 Aaron wrote:
> It's another to suggest it's wrong for free software
> to be included there.

> The fact that some repos
> also *separately* provide non-free software

you must have mis-understood me - i was not implying anything
about the proximity to other non-free software

the analogy with distributions does not reflect the issue i am
raising - distributions clearly identify, the licenses of the
software they distribute; and they do not distribute source code
for which they have no license to do so - the issue here, is
that forges do not identify unlicensed software as such; yet
they offer copies anyways, prominently, and with no warning that
pressing this shiny "download me now" button, is usually a
copyright violation, and is not actually permissible, neither by
the authors nor service operators

i realize now, why my proposal was misunderstood - i should not
have suggested removing A4 - C7 has a very different meaning -
perhaps i could have worded it better - A4 could remain without
redundancy or conflict with C7; and it has value of it own

  A4 is: "Does not permit nonfree licenses"
  C7 is: "Does not offer public downloads of unlicensed works"

On Thu, 11 Mar 2021 20:59:55 -0800 Aaron wrote:
> We don't want a situation where any host that won't exclude non-free
> software effectively decides there's no incentive

the proposed criteria would not require the exclusion of
non-free software - it would require that non-free software be
either private-access, or at least clearly presented as "not
licensed for distribution", _and_ at the very least, to abstain
from offering downloads of un-distributable works, so glibly and
prominently as they do now

i would not be concerned about alienating anyone - this is
merely suggesting that the forge does not entice their users
into violating the copyrights of their other users - i think
that any forge could easily meet the proposed C7 criteria, with
a trivial patch or two; and that their operators are
irresponsible at best, if they do not recognize this as a
liability, and a dis-service to their own users - also, if this
list featured more libre forges, and if the changes to meet C7
got into the upstream forge code, they would most likely be
taken by service operators without complaint - after-all there
is no legitimate argument to oppose it

On Thu, 11 Mar 2021 20:59:55 -0800 Aaron wrote:
> The line we would draw is that if the distribution itself 100%
> respects the license

they should also respect the copyright of works without a
license; and avoid enticing their users to disrespect it -
software freedom depends on a general respect for copyright -
disrespect for copyright is disrespect for software freedom, as
we know it

if someone publishes something, without a free license, that
should indicate the intention that it is for presentation only,
and should _not_ be distributed freely (just as a movie theater
is authorized to present films; but not to give away copies) -
it is the default expectation, that the author of some work,
should have some confidence, that the authorized presenter will
not re-distribute copies without permission - it would be very
clearly "unethical" then, if the host (or anyone) offers copies
to the public

this is the same default expectation of copyright protection,
that people have when publishing to youtube, soundcloud, and
similar services - if those services freely offered copies of
everything, without explicit permission to do so, their users
would be crying about it in droves, and the hub-bub would be
widely reported as a scandal

if the "ethical repository criteria" were focused on software
freedom alone; then perhaps this would be less relevant - i
agree that no one's software freedom is directly impeded by this
- GPL violations do not impede anyone's software freedom either;
but if these websites featured a prominent "violate the GPL"
button, which somehow assisted in doing so, i suspect that there
would be a criteria rejecting it, not as optional, but at the
essential level

these criteria are not presented as software freedom concerns
though - they are concerned with the ethical practices of server
operators - so, here is a counter proposal: drop the word
"ethical" from the description of the criteria - this practice
of entrapment is obviously unethical; so the only way to ignore
it, would be removing "ethics" as the primary concern - it is
the equivalent of a movie theater with a heap of unauthorized
copies of the present matinee in the lobby, under a large sign:
"Free - Take One"

more importantly though, it _is_ significantly detrimental to
software freedom; because in practice, it displaces any
incentive for developers to license their code

people who publish their code on these forges, want only for
other people to see it, perhaps to use it, and perhaps to
collaborate on it - proper licensing is of absolutely no concern,
especially to beginners - if the forge does not require the
proper distribution permission, then there is little incentive
for anyone to give it - they are gratis, automatic "E-Z"
distribution channels; and that satisfies many people, with the
false belief that they are allowing their code to be used and
shared freely

this practice robs all arguments for software freedom of their
convincing power; because in practice, all software on a typical
forge is presented to the naive, as freely distributable; and it
_is_ very literally "distributed freely", regardless of the

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