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Re: Documentation/License freeness (what RMS says about it) [rms@santafe.edu: Re: GPL itself non-free]

On Sat, Jun 06, 1998 at 11:54:26AM +0100, Jules Bean wrote:
> --On Fri, Jun 5, 1998 3:26 pm +0200 "Marcus Brinkmann"
> >  [Marcus asked:]
> >     It seems to imply, that I'm not allowed to derive a new license, using
> >     portions of the GPL (even when changing the name). Is that correct?
> [RMS wrote:]
> > 
> > Yes and no.  There is a legal principle (in the US at least) that
> > copyright cannot restrict what license terms you use.  So if you want
> > a license which has legal wording somewhat similar to the GNU GPL, but
> > somewhat different, you can write one.
> > 
> > However, it shouldn't be similar to the GPL in other respects; only in
> > the actual legal wording that implements the desired effect.
> Am I the only one who fails to see what this is trying to say?  Is he saying
> that I can't write my own license like the GPL, but I *can* steal words from
> it?  Huh?  'it shouldn't be similar to the GPL in other respects'?  In what
> respects does RMS not want my (theoretical) new license to be like the GPL?

I think the GPL document consists of the framework and the legal text
embedded in it. So, you are allowed to use portions of the legal text, but
you are not allowed to copy the framework.

I think you can avoid similar looking copyrights that have subtle changes
applied this way. It would be bad if we had to run a diff over a GPL looking
license each time when we want to package the software it applies to.

The license itself (the legal terms) can't be copyrigthed in a strict sense,
so there is not really a problem.
> This is probably not important for hamm.  But we need a clarification of
> this somewhere (maybe as an addendum to the DFSG itself).  What is software?
> When we had his argument a couple of weeks ago, I was told that it was not
> possible to draw a line between software and documentation, and therefore
> that 'non-free' documentation *was* a problem.
> I draw your attention to perlfaq and FSSTND..

This should not be mixed. The copyright and license is *different* from
software. The copyright are the legal terms that apply to software.

Documentation and standards are different from copyrights. point.

I think:

* We should treat documentation under the same terms as software, as we need
it to use the software successfully and we'll have the same benefits of free
documentation as we have of free software.

* We should treat copyright documents *not* under the same terms as
software. We only need the right to copy it verbatim to guarantee the
quality of our distribution.

We should remember now *why* we work on free software at all. Those goals do
not apply to licenses. The licenses are the documents that protect our work.
You can write whichever license you like, even copy parts of the GPL legal
text in it. This should satisfy everyone.


"Rhubarb is no Egyptian god."        Debian GNU/Linux        finger brinkmd@ 
Marcus Brinkmann                   http://www.debian.org    master.debian.org
Marcus.Brinkmann@ruhr-uni-bochum.de                        for public  PGP Key
http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/Marcus.Brinkmann/       PGP Key ID 36E7CD09

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