The Supreme Court of DFSG-Free? - Debconf 16

Editor: Petter Reinholdtsen
Category: Samfunn
Uploaded: 22 Jul 2016
Length: 0:41:18 (filler)
First broadcast: March 2, 2017, 10 p.m.

There is no Free Software project in the world with Debian's commitment to representative governance. Debian has a Constitution, recall and referendum ballot initiatives, and accountable, elected bodies. However, any representative system, no matter how well structured, has its gaps that can be exploited politically.

In this talk, I will first confess how I once used such a gap in the licensing approval process as part of package uploads to successfully reach political aims outside of Debian. I will explain how and why I did it, and why it was possible. While at the time, I was glad the system could be slightly "gamed", in hindsight, I'd like to draw the Debian's community attention this gap open for political opportunists and discuss changes in the political structure to prevent similar political exploitation in future.

Ultimately, Debian ftp-masters fully control, absent a specific General Resolution, interpretation of the DFSG. While, technically speaking, no specific package upload refusal nor approval sets any overarching Debian policy on a particular license, the ftp-masters' decisions do become a de-facto precedence-based system, much like a common-law Court system, since overturning such decisions would typically require a General Resolution in practice.

This talk will explore the socio-political ramifications of the current system of licensing decision-making in Debian, pontificate on ways it can be improved (and why it should be), and seek audience participation on whether the analysis presented is accurate and/or if the outcome of that analysis warrants changes in the existing system.

Talk (45 mins) session with Bradley Kuhn during Debconf 16