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Re: Debian Book Published

Lalo Martins wrote:
> On Oct 18, Bruce Perens decided to present us with:
> > 
> > It doesn't fit the free software guidelines because it discriminates
> > against printing, and the status regarding modification is not stated.
> > However, it is redistributable and viewable online by the user. I am left
> > wondering if we should treat books the same as other software or not.
> I agree. Software is software, books (and magazines) are another
> matter. Are you allowed to modify the packaged editions of LG,
> PJ and other publications? Even if you are, I think it is a
> mistake.

The book in question is documentation for a free system.  I think
that documentation should be as free as the software it describes,
otherwise it is useless when the software changes.  At least we
should hold it to the same standards. 

Many of the considerations for making software free are equally valid
for such documentation.  If the documentation can't be modified, then
people who need to change it, for example because they want to
document a forked version of the software, are faced with the choice
of relying on the original author or recreating the documentation.

Furthermore, if they don't have the source then making such a modified
version is a lot more work than it needs to be, since things like page
references have to be updated by hand.  If the documentation is only
available on paper, or in an already-typeset format, then it is even
more difficult.

I'll leave it to others to decide whether this book, or the other
books and magazines, fit in the DFSG.  I'm just asserting that they

> I wrote a very nice license for a roleplaying system I wrote
> (not software). If it were in english I could post it here, but
> I'm too busy to translate. But the act of thinking about the
> matter led me to believe software is far different from other
> kinds of intelectual products.

Interesting.  I'm working on a roleplaying system too, but I plan to
make it modifiable.  I think that _particularly_ with a roleplaying
system, which every game master is expected to adapt to the needs of a
particular campaign or group of players, it is important to allow
modifications and to allow such modifications to be shared.  
(I still remember TSR's attacks on the ftp sites that carried
player-created spell books.  That really brought home to me how
important freeness is in other areas than software.)

> There's the LDP license too, and if I well remember GNU doesn't
> copyleft their books do them?

I don't know the LDP license, but emacs.texi carries the following
license.  In summary, it allows distribution of modified versions
provided that "The GNU Manifesto" and the nodes about licensing are
not changed.


Published by the Free Software Foundation
59 Temple Place, Suite 330
Boston, MA  02111-1307 USA

Copyright (C) 1985, 1986, 1987, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 Free Software Foundation,

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of
this manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice
are preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to process this file through Tex and print the
results, provided the printed document carries copying permission
notice identical to this one except for the removal of this paragraph
(this paragraph not being relevant to the printed manual).

@end ignore
Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided also that the
sections entitled ``The GNU Manifesto'', ``Distribution'' and ``GNU
General Public License'' are included exactly as in the original, and
provided that the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the
terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this manual
into another language, under the above conditions for modified versions,
except that the sections entitled ``The GNU Manifesto'',
``Distribution'' and ``GNU General Public License'' may be included in a
translation approved by the Free Software Foundation instead of in the
original English.

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