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Re: Documentation Freeness (Re: Packages to be removed from hamm)

On Wed, 3 Jun 1998, Jules Bean wrote:

> Changing the GPL in your own home cannot be made illegal.  Unless you have
> signed a document agreeing not to - and none of us have.  Distributing
> modified versions of the GPL which claim to be the GPL is clearly illegal
> (I hope none of you would argue with that).  However, and very worryingly,
> it appears that the FSF copyright on the top of the GPL means that
> creating a derived work requires the consent (explicitly) of the FSF.
> Hmm...
> I wonder if there's a public document somewhere in which the FSF say
> they're happy for people to derive works from the GPL?
> Otherwise, the GPL is non-free.
> Humph.
> Talked myself into a corner.  Someone dig me out?
I can hand you a shovel ;-)

Trying to decide whether a copyright is "free" or "non-free" is a mistake.

1. It isn't software.

Even so, the GPL (as an example only) clearly says you may distribute
"verbatim" copies (in fact it demands that you do so). The only use you
can possible put the document to is that of a license (which implicitly
fixes the document as unchanging) as intended by the author.

2. Modification is necessary for the freedom of software, but that freedom
   is undermined if a license or copyright becomes mutable.

In fact, in neither case, are you restricted from providing the copyright
material "intact", and providing "something else" (like a diff for
instance) to allow the end user to read "your" license.

While this makes sense for a program's source code, it makes little sense
for a copyright. If you really don't want that license, then write your


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