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Re: I must be doing something seriously wrong...



On 05/22/2009 09:36 AM, Bill Nottingham wrote:
Toshio Kuratomi (a badger gmail com) said:
Given what Fedora does with respect to software patents in otherwise
free software, I think you're wrong here. We *do* make that choice
and related modifications all the time.

That situation is different, though, as Fedora has been told that there
isn't a choice WRT patents.  The decree of eliminating patents has come
down from Red Hat legal so unless Fedora has the wherewithal to be
funded by someone else than Red Hat there is no choice being made here.

Fedora does have a choice WRT flags.  There is a benefit to not shipping
flags but it isn't a matter of if we do ship flags, Red Hat will no
longer sponsor us.

It is still a situation where, due to the legal and cultural climate
of a particular country or countries, we draw the line as to content
&  code that we include.

No to the countries portion. Patents are due to the legal rules of a particular country. The country that Red Hat is incorporated in and therefore the country that we cannot violate the laws of and remain a project supported and funded to a high level by Red Hat.

 To reference my later point, I feel fairly comfortable
saying that we're not going to be shipping default backgrounds consisting
of naked people, or photographs of open surgical procedures, or overtly
religious iconography, or any variety of things, even though we have no
legal obligation to in that regard. Do we need an explicit policy on that
too? (I'm sure someone will argue that we should go ahead and ship all
those things if upstream includes them; I most assuredly do not agree.)

Oh definitely someone. Fpr instance, I disagree on some of your points here. What if there was an open source reader integrated with content for a specific format of medical textbook? That would be something we ship despite having photography of surgical procedures in it. We already ship sword and gnome-sword which is religious. So, since we disagree, how do we resolve the impasse? Popular vote? rock scissors paper?

You argue that banning flags is not a slippery slope and yet the examples you cite here just show that we are already on a slippery slope, flags would just be sliding further. There are things that we must leave out of the distribution because of laws in the country Red Hat is incorporated in (patents). There are separate choices we make about not including open source software/pieces of open source software (webcollage). For the things we do have a choice over, we need to be explicit in what goals we are trying to achieve. Enumerating our goals shows where we are headed as a project. Showing that "Be downloadable by anyone in any country not barred by US law" trumps "Package any maintained open source software" or vice versa is a good piece of information about who we are that people looking to contribute to a Linux distribution would like to know.

It's why I feel slippery slope arguments are missing the point - the
line as to what we'll ship and what we won't ship is already there, even
outside of legal obligations; this discussion about flags is essentially where
to place the line.

I try to avoid being extremist about things but if you're saying the reason we're justified in banning flags is because we're already patching out other things then perhaps we need to reexamine those other things and reincorporate them into the distribution. Slippery slope is a problem that should be solved, not an excuse for doing it more.

-Toshio


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