Re: Draft resolution formalising Debian's Associated Project status

From: Theodore Tso <tytso(at)mit(dot)edu>
To: Josip Rodin <joy(at)entuzijast(dot)net>
Cc: treasurer(at)spi-inc(dot)org, spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Draft resolution formalising Debian's Associated Project status
Date: 2007-03-10 12:53:22
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On Thu, Mar 08, 2007 at 11:15:48PM +0100, Josip Rodin wrote:
> I don't see how clause 8 hurts - so what if there's disagreement? The eighth
> clause simply says that the SPI board will listen to Debian developers *and
> anyone else* saying something changed or is disputed about the DPL or the
> secretary - it doesn't say that the SPI board needs to act upon anything.

Well, to the extent that the SPI board can listen to anyone, it may be
harmless. But suppose someone cc's the spi-board to a mailing list
flame war from a debian-mailing list that goes on for 500, 600
messages? Would clause 8 mean that the SPI board is obligated to read
each and every one of the messages, and not be allowed to killfile the

The real concern here from the SPI point of view is legal liability.
If there is a rogue DPL and a rogue secretary, and the SPI acts on the
instructions given by its contacts as detailed in its policies and
procedures, then the DPL and the secretary may be personally legally
liable for going beyond the scope of their responsibilities, but the
SPI is in the clear.

If however the SPI is responsible for making a judgement call about
the murky nature of Debian politics, particularly since certain
aspects of Debian's policies and procedures are not necessarily
clearly defined (or at least subject to dispute leading to mailing
list flames that go on and on for hundreds of messages) from a legal
point of view, then SPI could get dragged into what could be a nasty,
and potentially arbitrarily expensive legal adjucation procedure.

Hence, in order for SPI to protect itself, it is best from SPI's point
of view to have a very strictly defined interface with which it
interacts with its sub-projects, much like a bank has a strictly
defined interface with its customers --- and for the same reasons.
The legal exposure, not to mention the exposure to vast debian mailing
list flame wars to SPI board members who are not otherwise obligated
to be on various Debian mailing list, would be enormous.


- Ted


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