My concerns about GPLv3 process

Stefano Maffulli stef at
Tue Jan 31 16:32:15 UTC 2006

On Tue, 2006-01-31 at 12:16 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> simo <simo.sorce at>
> [the comments tool]
> > But the tool is very powerful and, more important, useful and usable.
> I'll have to take your word for that, seeing as I can't use it!

What browser are you using? Did you inform the webmaster?  Did you
submit bug report?  Your help would be appreciated.

> To be clearer: I think FSFE members spoke at about 30 events in
> 2005.  GNU speakers (mostly RMS) seem to do a similar number.
> Not all of those would be appropriate opportunities, but there
> would be plenty to introduce GPLv3 to many interested people.

We all in FSFs will definitely do this.

> Sticking "International" in a conference title and expecting
> people to dump exhaust fumes into the upper atmosphere in
> winter (and it's not fun to do much else from Europe at this
> time of year) is not very good. This is why a multi-site intro
> is a very good idea.

Please then help raise funds to support translations.  At the moment FSF
staff is already working 200% over-time to improve the site and make it
useful.  Managing translation falls shortly after 'expanding support to
other browsers than FF'.

> I think most hackers and users are more familiar with bug trackers
> than with caucuses. We have a large problem with growing cynicism
> and falling participation in political processes, while "bazaar"
> software development seems to be growing, yet FSF looks like it
> modelled GPLv3 discussion on the declining political processes!

GPLv3 is not only for hackers.  It is also for lawyers, public
administration, civil servants, businesses, engineers.  Therefore the
tool tries to take into consideration many many factors, needs and
requests.  If you have suggestions on /how/ to better manage the process
then please submit them, trying to avoid the words 'democratic' and
'open', supplying real use case scenarios as I don't seem to understand
your point.

Then please point me the literature where 'growing bazaar style
development' is growing, because I see pretty vertical organizations
dealing with very large free sw contributions (Eclipse, the whole Apache
software, OpenSolaris,  I would like to know more about
this topic.

> Are you saying committees will not be deciding which issues
> are Major, Minor or dismissed?

Committees will help FSF:

        4.2 Issue Resolution
        Each issue identified in the course of public participation can
        be  resolved in one of four ways: by modification of the license
        draft, by alteration of descriptive material, by advice
        concerning the use of the license, or an issue may not require
        any change. Discussion Committees will characterize issues as
        Major or Minor. Major issues will be placed on the agenda of all
        other Discussion Committees and, until resolved, may be placed
        on the agenda for successive International meetings. All issues
        unresolved at the end of each drafting stage will be carried
        over for discussion and resolution during the next discussion
        stage. All issues not resolved before the issuance of the last
        discussion draft will be finally determined by the Free Software
        Foundation at the close of the last call period. All Major
        issues resolved by the Foundation will be described by a written
        opinion, publicly available, at 

If you want to be in a committee you should ask FSF for an invitation.

> Discussion Committees A-E can work in secret if they wish and
> nothing appears to republicise the process later.

> Where is step c "posts issues on the same page" documented?
> That looks like new data to me. There seemed no requirement
> for steps b-d to be public. Your description contradicts
> - does it need updating?

Probably it needs better wordings.  Simo has put it the way I understood
section 4.1 of the process definition and the way I have heard the
process described by Moglen in Boston.

> FSF has also locked out many free software users by siting the
> only public event so far in the USA and by requiring a particular
> browser. Most foreign users of lynx, w3m, links and much other
> free software need not apply, or can email and pray.

Oh, come on: look at web site statistics and you will realize that the
users of text-only browsers are a very little percentage.  And in any
case, thinking of those like rms that don't use X, FSF provided the
email interface.

The first event took place in Boston for practical and symbolic reasons:
practical because organizing in any other place would have costed too
much for coordination from FSF.  Symbolic because GPLv2 was developed in
Boston, with rms working at MIT, therefore the choice of the venue.

Yes, rms apologised for choosing to host the conference in USA, because
some decided not to travel there to protest against US government.
There will be at least a conference in Europe and in Latin America, be

> An open and transparent process with well-understood process and
> audit trails on all public submissions until the final reckoning.
> A tin-pot town council can manage it: why not FSF?

Because the scope of a town council and that of a corporation like FSF
are totally different?  FSF has a manifesto and the responsibility of
copyright assignments from hundreds of people.  FSF cannot give up
completely to this kind of democracy.  

> 1. migrate the fancy web comments to an open bug tracker
>    with BTS proxies and helpers on-call for those who need them,

I won't comment on the choice of the tool as they all have drawbacks and
advantages.  In any case changing the tool now is out of question.

> 2. replace Discussion Committees A-E with geographic forums
>    (mainly because cultures and time zones make that grouping
>    as practical as anything else),

Geographic or other criteria are all equally opinable.

> 3. prepare and dispatch GPLv3 briefing packs to all speakers,

This is done already.

> 4. organise and call GPLv3 meetings at events,

This is being prepared.  There is already one date almost fixed and you
will see communication in this list within few days.

> 5. make people and materials available to local user groups,
>    law libraries and whoever else you think is relevant, and

Lawyers are being called to participate to the process.  Committees C
has many from few countries.  I you have names to suggest please do:
write to Moglen and Peter Brown.

Local groups should ask what information they need more than those
provided on the site, probably also they should help raise funds to
organize local GPLv3 conferences and have FSF speakers.

> 6. issue calls for participation by non-big-business groups
>    such as free software projects, cooperatives, charities,
>    governments and civil society.

That was done already.  But, again, if you feel someone important was
left out it was only because FSF is not the Almighty and doesn't know
everybody on the planet: let FSF know who should participate in the
Committees.  There is no reason why FSF would not want more members.

I hope I have answered your concerns.

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