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Re: [gNewSense-users] KFV: how to handle COPYING?

From: Karl Goetz
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] KFV: how to handle COPYING?
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 14:40:02 +0930

On Thu, 2008-06-26 at 00:25 -0400, Bake Timmons wrote:
> >> Thus, summary scripts would be OK, since COPYING would appear as any
> >> other non-free item--except having a comment "waiver" (footnote).
> >> This would be less ambitious than what Sam suggests, since scripts
> >> would still be "ignorant" about non-free exceptions.  However, there
> >> is nothing preventing footnotes from being analyzed to provide such
> >> "knowledge" in the future.  Indeed, there might be additional bits of
> >> knowledge in footnotes that contribute to automated uses.
> >
> > So to make sure i understand correctly: It would be marked /non-free/
> > with a note about why we include it, rather then /free/ with a note
> > about why we consider it free (its a licence).
> There are certainly different motivations to justify either way.
> Thinking about it again, "free" could indeed be made acceptable with
> sufficient explanation, which would matter even more than in the
> non-free case given the controversy that has flared up before (e.g.,
> in Debian).

I think if we aim for a 100% free distro, and say "we are 99% free
because of licence files" it will be more confusing then if we say "we
are 100% free, and heres why we consider licence files to be a

> Perhaps some people might feel "free" is deceptive, but that is why a
> *good* footnote matters--even more in the "free" case.  It matters not
> to just avoid deception but to avoid the *perception* of deception.

I agree.

> Again, it should link to a separate page, in part to demonstrate how
> much we care about careful explanation and encouraging readers to
> think for themselves.  The page can be quite brief, but should at
> least be very, very clear with canonical references, etc.  In addition
> to the footnote and web page, we should also look for other areas to
> clarify, such as the pages introducing (K/P)FV.
> A plain, no-nonsense way of presenting it is:
>   For the main purpose of Freedom Verification--which is to identify,
>   document, and remove non-free sofware that has no place in a free
>   software distribution--COPYING is indeed completely "free".

I would say "Licence texts are completely free", rather then COPYING
files - licences appear in other files as well, and the COPYING file may
not be free (i cant imagine why, but there could be non-changable text
of some sort in the file, thats not related to the licence)

> However, we need to be more thorough and clear.  We should generalize
> a bit more than we have done, since it is not just COPYING that is
> "non-free" in a strict sense.  By *that* measure thousands of files in
> the kernel source are non-free since they contain invariant parts,
> namely, text or references to licenses of many kinds.  Thus, a better
> explanation would be careful not to inadvertently put COPYING in the
> doghouse, as if it were any different in this sense than other license
> text.

I agree (i guess thats obvious from my paragraph above :))

> BTW, regarding non-free documentation, while Ubuntu may already filter
> it out, should we not be more explicit in rejecting it?  (Maybe I am
> not acquainted enough with the gNS web sites.)

I belive the aim of gNS is 100% *FSF* free (as oposed to DFSG free). As
such the doco moved by upstream(s) into non-free categories may actually
be free for our purposes.

Karl Goetz <address@hidden>

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