Re: Documentation Freeness (Re: Packages to be removed from hamm)
On Tue, Jun 02, 1998 at 09:19:11PM +0200, joost witteveen wrote:
> > The document authors already can enforce a lot of things, keeping the
> > document free:
> > I want to hear valid reasons why this is not enough before I even think
> > about non-free documents in main!
> Uhm -- just one reason: GPL (the text) is non-free: you are not allowed
> to modify it (from the GPL, first few lines):
> Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
> of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.
Nah! You can't change the copyright of a program, so what? You can derive a
new copyright from the GPL, but you mustn't name it GPL. Changing the name
is enough, because license textes themselves are not copyrighted in the normal
sense (IIRC). The NPL for example is a copyright somewhat derived from the GPL
(although it is completely different).
As I stated in my original mail, requiring a name change is okay and does
not make a document non-free IMHO.
> Fortunately (if I'm correct) the GPL does not _FORCE_ us to include a copy
> of the GPL document with debian -- so there _is_ a way to distribute a ``free''
> debian: `rm /usr/doc/copyright/*GPL'. (and maybe put a note there, saying
> that we cannot distribute the GPL due to licence problems, but it can be found
> by writing to ...).
> Actually, I'm more serious than it may seem. Yes, I realise it's a bit harsh
> to remove it (and other references) from Debian, but if that helps to
> make the FSF distribute the GPL with a different licence, then it's a good
This is not necessary, as this has nothing to do with software freeness
anymore. The point is that you can't change the copyright of programs (this
does not make them non-free!), and the programs contain a reference to the
GPL. You *can* derive a new license from the GPL, but you may not call it
GPL anymore in the legal sense.
Where is the problem?
The problem is that the GPL is a legal text, and a sequence of bytes. We
want to have the right to change the sequence of bytes, not the legal text.
If we encode the GPL in unicode instead of ASCII, is this a infringement
against the quote above?
Let's not get bizarre here. I'll try to summarize:
1) A software entity that forbids to change the copyright is not non-free
becasue of this clause (if this would be true, we could only ship PD
2) Requiring a name change is sufficient to cope with this problem.
> Hasn't TeX learned us that there is no distinction between documentation and
> source code?
> Or how about those C(++) systems that let you write documentation and source
> code in one file?
Yes, you make very valid points here. IMO, this problem rises now because we
have more and better documentation than some years ago.
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