|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Re: [Hangout - NYLXS] A summary of some open discussions
|On Mon, Jan 20, 2020 at 01:59:14AM +0100, Mark Wielaard wrote:
> Hi Mike,
> On Thu, 2020-01-16 at 21:48 -0500, Mike Gerwitz wrote:
> > Yes, this is what I meant. I've volunteered in an administrative role
> > for the GNU Project for a number of years now---with the authority to
> > appoint comaintainers to existing packages---and never has the FSF
> > attempted to exercise any type of control over GNU's governance.
> > FSF does have authority over things we delegate to them entirely, such as
> > copyright assignments and trademark enforcement; system administration;
> > and such. But that doesn't give them authority over our other procedures.
> Of course, if we got into a "fight" with the FSF that would be pretty
> bad. I don't think anybody wants that. It would be outrageous. But that
> the FSF never needed to explicitly use their authority doesn't mean
> they don't have the final responsibility over the GNU project. And that
> isn't a bad thing. We need each other.
You keep repeating this and it is just not true.
No matter how bad you want the FSF to have oversite of GNU, they do not.
GNU is an organization of volunteers lead of Richard Michael Stallman,
and he has final say on all matters.
Stallman he built GNU into its current form, and volunteers have no
authority over its direction or control, and neither does the FSF.
the both work for GNU, not the other way around.
If Richard chose to, he could ditch the participation of the FSF in GNU
affair with a simple proclamation. Any Trademarks that the FSF holds
would need to be handed to GNU, and copyright assignments have always
been nothing more than a formality of the law to establish standing in a
court case, if that needs to happens. But in if of itself, GNU is
protected in its code base by the GPL itself. No one can just walk away
Furthmore, for good reason, it has always been the case that GNU is run
under a single hand and not a Democracy. Simply put, GNU makes
unpopular decisions. The majority of coders and corporate entities in
the world, including GNU volunteers and participants, not only disagree
with the ethos and rules of GNU, but they would LOVE to just see GNU
evaporate, as well as the entire copyleft community. Handing governance
to the community is suicide for GNU and the RMS vision.
When folks volunteer for GNU, they do not pledge there allegiance to
Richard personally, and this has been a repeated slander against RMS.
They are simply contributing to his vision, and the project as a whole.
The projects rules and ethos are clearly encuciated and enumerated. If
you don't want to work for RMS and don't agree with the projects goals,
you can protest all you want, but it is tough luck. But nowhere does GNU
require everyone who works on the project be loyal subjects to Richard,
nor ever agree with the goals.
Volunteers no more pledge allegiance to RMS's personage then a worker at
a bank swear fidelity to the CEO of the bank. They are just making a
contribution in exchange for some personal advantage, might it be for
receiving gratitude, or just satisfaction of being involved in a
community of coders, or for the personal education, or because
they buy into the RMS vision for Free Software, lock stock and barrel.
But everyone does it of there own free will and for their own personal
Regardless of the reward, that doesn't give any volunteer rights to make
any governing decisions. Stallman has rightfully alway reserved that
for himself the right to make ultimate decisions and to be the frontman
for the movement. It is his rightful place. He alone set forth this
organization, and steered it, for over 3 decades, and kept it always on
message. It is his lifes work and it is his baby in total.
Attempts to remove him from it are immoral.
Furthermore, Richard understood from the beginning that GNU would best
be served by NOT requiring the kind of fidelity to himself that others
accuse him of. It doesn't even require that you believe in the Free
Software ideal. It does require you to follow the rules set out by GNU
and to agree to his governance of the project. If that is too much for
you to stomach, find something else to do with your time.
In fact, GNU would take contributions and volunteers from any walk of
life, gender, creed or political orientation in order reach its goals.
In order to do that, it would be essential for Richard to retain
governance control. Otherwise the decenting and diverse volunteers of
GNU projects would indeed corrupt the GNU vision from the inside.
and that is where we are current at, BTW.
Folks need to do the right this and put this rebellion to rest and let
Richard do his job.
> The FSF is our legal guardian, without the FSF GNU just wouldn't exist.
> And the FSF is a public charity, which means we can rely on them to
> function according to their mission. And their mission is basically our
> mission too! Except that theirs is broader and more philosophical and
> ours is focused on actually producing Free Software through working on
> the GNU operating system.
> When we release the software we produced collectively the FSF takes on
> some liability. And we should be really glad they do. As a GNU
> Maintainer I have had some interesting discussions years back with
> people at "big corp" who warned me that I should be really sure that
> what I was releasing was "correct" because the consequences for me and
> my employer might not be pleasant if I wasn't (which was double awkward
> because they confused who my employer was just because I was the
> maintainer that accepted patches from others who worked for that
> employer...) It was really nice that I had the backing of the FSF (who
> actually had arranged some discussions with legal counsel to make sure
> we did know what we were doing) and could say that they should contact
> the FSF if they had any "legal concerns" about the GNU package for
> which I was responsible. But that does mean the FSF has to be sure we
> don't do totally stupid things. They cannot take on unlimited
> liability. So they do have a responsibility to monitor our processes.
> Also given that they are a public charity they have a responsibility to
> make sure the activities they support are fair, actually support their
> mission and are for the public good (they cannot "enrich" individuals).
> So again, they do have ultimate responsibility over our procedures.
> > I've had a personal relationship with a number of people at the FSF over
> > the years, including John Sullivan, and I've never gotten the impression
> > that they had desire to exercise control over GNU. In fact, a current
> > FSF employee is a GNU maintainer, and that employee is treated the same
> > as any other maintainer.
> Sure. The GNU Classpath maintainer before me was also an FSF employee
> and I have always had good relations with various FSF staff members. I
> don't believe any of them wants to exercise control. They all feel
> really responsible for the GNU project. And they just want to work
> together with, enable and empower the GNU volunteers who make it all
> Given the new situation we just need to figure out how to do that.
> Hopefully the questions we sent the FSF will clarify how we can proceed
> with that.
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