Hi Ludo,

On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 03:33:20PM +0100, Ludovic Courtès wrote:
> Mark Wielaard <m...@klomp.org> skribis:
> > I think this is a really good starting point for getting feedback from
> > other GNU maintainers, developers, stakeholders to see whether they
> > would agree with this GNU mission statement. And discuss with the
> > broader community whether it actually says what we want it to (what in
> > it makes it real GNU and not some generic "open source" thing)?
> Good point; though it wouldn’t be bad either if the social contract was
> similar to that of a free software project with similar goals.

I agree. And it would also be good if our social contract could be a
template for others. I do actually think this version does a good job
to show what is different about GNU by placing user freedom front and
center. But I wouldn't be surprised we missed something when a larger
group of people look at it.

> > For example I think this is one of those things:
> >
> >> Unless the GNU Project deems that a different choice furthers the 
> >> advancement
> >> of free software, all software written by the GNU Project is distributed
> >> under /copyleft licenses/, designed to ensure that developers cannot strip 
> >> off
> >> users' freedom from GNU software.
> >
> > But it also looks like a "policy" issue, that shouldn't really be in
> > the social contract itself. This feels more like something that should
> > follow from the mission statement/social contract in the context of
> > working on actual software.
> I think copyleft is a “salient feature” of GNU, compared to many other
> free software projects, and indeed, GNU has its own licenses for that
> purpose.  So to me, copyleft has its place in the social contract,
> rather than in a separate policy.  We still need to leave room for the
> rare exceptions (Speex, ncurses), but there should be a clear stance in
> favor of copyleft licenses IMO.

I agree. But it feels like we can describe this more concise without
having the explain the exact policy we are following. For example
could we just state here: "The GNU Project prefers to distribute
software under /copyleft licenses/, designed to ensure that users'
freedoms cannot be strip off."?

> > What are other policies that would/should follow from the social
> > issues? Or should maybe be in the contract itself?
> >
> > For example one core policy seems to be that we prefer the copyright to
> > be held individuals or the FSF (instead of being held by corporations)
> > so that the user freedoms are actually upheld when copyleft is used.
> I don’t think there’s such a policy right now, is there?

There certainly is for various (older?) GNU projects. At least all
that I contribute to have such a policy. It is explained here:
And the FSF itself has a larger explanation here:

The reason I want to call this out is because when you don't have a
policy to keep copyright with the actual developers or assigned to a
foundation that comes up for user freedom you might accidentially
loose a way to defend user freedom for GNU software.

If you pretend that who holds the copyrights is no big deal then, for
"popular" projects, you might slowly but surely see that the
copyrights will be held by corporations employing the developers. This
is a problem because corporations in general don't have any incentive
to defend user freedom. They don't want to upset their partners and
customers when they don't pass through the freedoms required by the
license. And they will just ignore the issue. It isn't that companies
are evil, it is just that they don't care (it isn't in their business
interest to care). But that also means they are often more than happy
to move the responsibility (assign the copyright) so that the issue is
out of their hands (companies do like a level playing field).

> > Is that something that should be in the social contract? Does it
> > follow from what is in it now? Or should we add something to make the
> > (abstract) idea clear? (e.g. The GNU Project prefers policies that
> > encourage and enable developers to actively defend the users'
> > Freedom.)
> I think it’s implicit that project policies cannot contradict the
> higher-level goals set forth by the social contract.

But does the current text of the social contract really sufficiently
clear that we will try to actively defend user's freedoms? For example
by the above policy.



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