[linux-elitists] RMS is at it again

Heather Stern star@starshine.org
Fri Dec 1 11:01:28 PST 2000

Aaron Lehmann wrote:
-- Start of PGP signed section.
> On Fri, Dec 01, 2000 at 10:59:40AM -0600, Joakim Ziegler wrote:
> > 
> > It seems to me that they could probably apply some of the same magic they use
> > to make custom ISO images, to this, so that you'd only get one copy on your
> > ISO image, for instance.
> I don't think you understand debian. No serrious Debian users use CD's
> over the FTP archive, which is always up-to-date. RMS' logic is that
> since you can download .deb packages from the debian ftp archive, and
> since there are thousands of GPL'd debs they only point to the one copy
> that IS included in the base system, people COULD download a deb without
> being on a debian system, convert it to some other format, and not have
> a copy of the GPL!!! What a major violation on Debian's part!
> Do you see how this is absurd?

Even with that absurdity, they don't need to ship the whole GPL in every 
pack.  They can just use the paragraph that says "This is under the GPL
(version bla etc). You should have a copy in (whatever directory debian
likes to keep it in, at the time the package ships).  You can get always
request a complete copy from (FSF address)"

Lots shorter.

I think this is closely analogous to the folk who want to remove general
rights to use any other type of Thing because "someone might do something
bad with it."  Can't use distributed-stuff because someone might steal
music.  What's next, can't use hammers because someone might smash car
windows with them?

I mean, get real.  Let's take his scenario at its tightest bound, where he 
is purely right and some nefarious twit is out there downloading .deb's and 
any .rpm's that don't carry defensive notes, and burying them in propriety 
because "my copy came with no license therefore I can do it".  Bullpocky.  
Drag their butt into court, show the judge your copyright filing and the ways 
which you properly provide the info, and he throws the book at this clown for 
clearly circumventing the normal way of things.

Quite the contrary, one would think RMS should want a few dorks to try that
stunt; whole companies might have to "turn GPL" in order to follow derivitive
works restrictions.

The real problem with RMS' philosophy is that he claims a fairly noble ideal
(which he also seems to deeply believe in) but, he has chosen a means to 
implement it which depends on lawyers and restricting rights.  Restriction of
rights as a means to a goal of increased rights.... I dunno 'bout *you* but
I see a bug in this design.

At least in Debian's case, a fairly thorough effort is made to retain contact
with the real copyright holders - if it comes to something nasty, a lot of 
the debian project could turn to another license (doesn't have to bs BSD,
could be MIT or Artistic or the one Tom Oehser uses on Tomsrtbt, or something
crafted to clearly express DFSG in legalese) fairly quickly (within a few 
months).  Some good code would be lost in such a schism I'm sure.  Other 
distros might not do as well.  It would be a mess.   It would take a few
years to clean up but it would be about the same as the original BSD breakoff
from SysV.  The really hard part would be if Linus decides to take the kernel
to another license, nearly everything has been changelogged, but it's a *lot*
of logs to go through, and students have graduated, people have even changed
countries, etc.

Anyways the Debian gang are among the FSF's boosters for the most part, so 
what I really wonder, is who told off RMS such that he decided to have a 
public tnatrum.  

* Heather * Due to circumstances beyond your control, 
            you are master of your fate
            and captain of your soul.

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