Re: Gnus Manual License
Hubert Chan <email@example.com> writes:
> On Fri, 06 Oct 2006 08:35:19 +0200, David Kastrup <firstname.lastname@example.org> said:
>> Hubert Chan <email@example.com> writes:
>>> Huh? Are you saying that it's OK to publish some random manual,
>>> and state on the cover that it is "A GNU Manual", when it is, in
>>> fact, NOT a GNU manual? Is the FSF OK with this?
>> If they put on the cover text, they have to bear the consequences.
> So if I take a GNU manual, and modify it such that it is no longer a
> GNU manual, and still put on the cover that it is "A GNU Manual",
> then I'll "have to bear the consequences". Nice.
This is not what I said. Please reread what I wrote, and reread what
you wrote. I think it is obvious that "they" refers to the FSF when
there is no other subject in your sentences which it could possibly be
>>> Independently of copyright law, there are generally laws against
>>> using someone else's name to "endorse" your own product without
>>> their permission.
>> So what? You do not even have their permission, you have their
>> _demand_ to put this cover text on.
> The demand is made under copyright law. I don't see it as a waiver
> that prevents me from being sued under other laws.
There is nothing that ever can prevent you from being sued under any
law. But there are cases that are so clear-cut that there is not a
chance in hell any judge would rule against you. And if you get sued
for actually heeding the license conditions, this is one such case.
And it certainly is a case that the FSF would not want to engage in,
anyway, since it would completely undermine their credibility.
>> It would be utter license abuse that would lose them a case before
>> every court if they twisted this into some sort of "you are not
>> allowed to publish at all" game.
> Oh, come on. You must really be naive to think that. The courts
> have made absolutely ridiculous rulings before. Unless the license
> gives me an absolute guarantee that it is OK, I wouldn't take that
> chance. And besides, why would anyone want to risk a lawsuit?
Again: no license whatsoever will prevent you from getting sued ever.
As you can see with the ongoing SCO/IBM, SCO/Novell, SCO/RedHat cases,
some companies sue based on fairy mist and pixy dust.
But the FSF is not such a company: they don't have the money to afford
such nonsense, and their main asset is credibility.
>>>>> The manual would make claims that are absolutely false, and which
>>>>> the license prevents anyone from removing.
>>>> You can easily say
>>>> A GNU Manual Converted to a Microsoft share.
>>> Yay. So we can have:
>>> A GNU Manual
>>> Except that now it's been adapted into the ZILE manual, and only
>>> chapter 28 has any relation to any GNU manual.
>>> Actually, this is now a JOVE manual.
>>> Published by IBM.
>>> Err... make that Sun.
>>> Well, this isn't actually technically a manual any more, per se.
>>> It's more of a reference card now.
>>> ... ad infinitum ...
>> No, we can't have that.
>> The ``Cover Texts'' are certain short passages of text that are
>> listed, as Front-Cover Texts or Back-Cover Texts, in the notice that
>> says that the Document is released under this License. A Front-Cover
>> Text may be at most 5 words, and a Back-Cover Text may be at most 25
> Whatever. So we have a list of a zillion texts that are each at
> most 5 words in length. (Assuming that 5 words is enough to correct
> the previous falsehood.)
You can act on that once there actually are a zillion texts. You
decide to act on it when there are just three words, certainly much
less than in the BSD advertising clause. That is disingenuous.
>>> At least with the BSD advertising clause, you were never forced to
>>> state something that was factually incorrect, requiring you to add
>>> useless text in order to retract the falsehood.
>> The thing does not become non-GNU by modification,
> Once it is used to document something that is not a GNU project, or
> modified for purposes outside of the GNU project, I would argue that
> it is no longer a GNU manual.
Then add "changed outside the GNU project" after it, and nobody need
ever add another line in order to keep it true.
>> and the cover texts apply to mass-printed copies, so we are pretty
>> certainly talking about a manual here.
> Sure. If you say that reference cards, posters, etc. can also be
> considered manuals.
If you want to be on the safe side, the required two sentences will
not make much of a difference, compared to the whole business of
copyright notices and stuff that are required anyway.
>>>> if you deem it necessary. And this requirement becomes active
>>>> only on mass printed copies, anyway.
>>> Like I've said before: dual license GPL/GFDL. If publishers
>>> can't/don't want to comply with the GPL, then they can use the
>>> GFDL. And people who don't care about printed copies can use the
>> The problem is that they can subsequently restrict redistribution
>> to just a single license. And that means that the protection is
>> the minimum of that of GPL and GFDL, not a combination.
> My understanding is that the combined license "A | B" is DFSG free
> as long as A or B are DFSG free.
Straw man. Why should the FSF be interested in lowering the
protection it can provide for software and documentation to remain
>> For example, GFDL-hostile entities like Debian will be free to
>> distribute the material GPL-only, meaning that it will become
>> impossible to reasonably create printed copies.
> Even in that case, it would only prevent them from creating printed
> copies if they obtained the document only from Debian.
Which is the whole point of the GNU public licenses: your source for
the binaries is the channel responsible for providing the source code.
> The alternative is that Debian does not distribute the documentation
> at all, in which case the publisher could not have obtained the
> documentation from Debian at all. In either case, the publisher
> would need to obtain the documentation (or at least a license) by
> other means. So no freedom is lost.
Because Debian refuses to provide documentation free to print in a
useful manner anyway, no freedom is lost?
If that was something that the FSF was willing to accept, it would not
ever have created the GPL but rather went with a free-for-all license
like MIT. The reasoning being that since Microsoft would not provide
source code anyway, no freedom is lost by handing over all GNU
software to be embedded in binary only material.
It is a somewhat nice idea. But it has not worked too well for a lot
of software, and it is certainly not the kind of thinking that made
the FSF create their public licenses in the first place.
David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum