Re: distributable but non-free documents
Scripsit Jeroen Dekkers <email@example.com>
> On Tue, Mar 05, 2002 at 12:57:40AM +0100, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> > For example, I would take some of the RFC's, c&p from them, add texinfo
> > markup and include bits of them in documentation of GNU software.
> IANAL, I don't know if adding texinfo markup to them is considered
> making a derivative work or just distributing, you don't change the
> text itself.
I don't think "derived work" is the key phrase here. As far as I
understand it, a derived work is one where the derivor has made enough
independent choices that the resulting work is governed by the joint
copyright of the original author and the derivor (i.e. one needs
separate permissions from both of them to copy it).
However, what we talk about here is *modified* work, which also covers
modifications that are not derivations. "Modified" is not even a
legally defined term, I think, because copyright law makes it illegal
to copy the law without the copyright holder's permission no matter
whether it has been modified. It makes perfect legal sense to grant
that permission either "as long as the bit pattern of the copy is
exactly unchanged", or "as long as the words are the same and in the
same order", or something in between - and there's no need for the law
to define which of those is the proper meaning of "modified".
> To quote the RFC copyright notice from RFC 2026 "Internet Standards
Just for the record, I don't think RFC 2026 is technical
documentation. It documents a social process, not a technical one.
But the same copyright notice is found in newer technical RFCs.
> the original dicussion was about the RFC copyright. I still don't see
> how this license really restricts the user, the things you were
> talking are allowed. Enlighten me if I'm wrong.
It says that modification is not allowed "except as needed for the
purpose of developing Internet standards in which case the procedures
for copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
That means that if I and a group of like-minded people want to
experiment with an email transport system where the mail agents demand
micropayments prior to accepting a mail for delivery (to effectively
eliminate spamming), we are not allowed to document our experimental
special-purpose delivery protocol simply by distributing a document
based on the text from RFC 2821, but with appropriate changes - unless
we decide to wait and put up with whatever bureaucracy the "Internet
Standards process" entails.
Of course, we will be allowed to distribute a document that describes
the *differences* between SMTP and our new protocol, which in a sense
is akin to distributing software changes as patches. That means that
*perhaps*, by analogy, we should consider the RFC's free - but the
patch clause in the DFSG was always a compromise, and I don't think
it will do anybody any good to extend it to documentation, now that
the trend seems to be towards a stricter application of the DFSG to
software that we've had some years ago.
Henning Makholm "Jeg forstår mig på at anvende sådanne midler på
folks legemer, at jeg kan varme eller afkøle dem,
som jeg vil, og få dem til at kaste op, hvis det er det,
jeg vil, eller give afføring og meget andet af den slags."