For Approval: GPLv3

Rick Moen rick at
Thu Aug 16 20:40:26 UTC 2007

Quoting Chris Travers (chris at

> 7b of the GPL v3 states that one may require the preservation of 
> reasonable legal notices.  Debian has raised the concern that 
> "reasonable" is not defined anywhere.

By "Debian", I assume you mean "unnamed parties who have opined on the
matter to the open, unmoderated mailing list debian-legal".  As a
Debian-using sysadmin, I always appreciate people not confusing the
distribution as a whole with (in particular) some of the wilder
commentators on that list.

The cited objection by "Debian" is pretty ridiculous.  If they don't
like the fact that a Turing machine cannot be set up to decide what is a
"reasonable" notice requirement, then they're going to really hate the
rest of the world's legal systems, where the reasonable man standard is
widely used.

Fortunately, the perspective-challenged opinion of some unnamed party on
debian-legal need not detain us, here.

> Due to concerns such as these,. Debian treats the GPL v3 as a 
> "case-by-case" license which may meet conditions similar to the OSD or 
> not depending on the specific work.

Actually, individual Debian _developers_, with theoretical intervention
by the ftp-masters and any NMUs, treat GPLv3-covered packages on a 
case-by-case basis -- absent a passed General Resolution, decision of
the DPL, unchallenged decision of the Project Secretary, unchallenged
decision of various Deputies, or unchallenged decision of the Technical
Committee.  Neither the debian-legal mailing list as a whole nor any
individal poster to that rather motley public mailing list has more than
an advisory role.

> However, I think that you are misrepresenting what I have said.

To err is human.  Please feel welcome to clarify, if that seems

> I would also point out that I did a little more digging and discovered 
> that Debian considers the GPL v3 to be a license which may or may not 
> (depending on use of optional terms) violate the Debian Free Software 
> Guidelines.

I believe you mean "unnamed posters to the open and unmoderated
debian-legal mailing list feel this way".

> The "fields of endeavor" that I was talking about were firmware for 
> FCC-regulated equipment, voting machines, and the like.

To reiterate:  those are not fields of endeavour.

> The basic argument is that if you cannot abide by both the laws and
> the terms of the license, you cannot use the code.  

To reiterate:  that is always and everywhere the case, and always has
been.  OSI's mission does not include fixing people's
licence-compatibility, legal compliance, or software-packaging problems.

> Once again, I am willing to accept Michael's view that the combination 
> of government regulation *and* license terms do not constitute a problem 
> for part 6 of the OSD where the license *alone* does not enforce such 
> discrimination, but I reject your view that the field of endeavor that I 
> was concerned about was as you categorize.

I agree with Michael's statement, and reiterate my simple observation
that you did not cite a field of endeavour within the meaning of OSD#6.

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