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Re: Documentation/License freeness

On Sat, Jun 06, 1998 at 08:42:14PM -0500, Chris Lawrence wrote:
> On Jun 06, Santiago Vila wrote:
> Documentation may be included in main so long as there are no restrictions
> on the unmodified use of the documentation and no restrictions on
> translating the documentation to another format, provided the translation
> preserves the natural language of the author.

No, this is not enough. We have a section for such documents: non-free.

It is essential for the success of free software that we have up-to-date and
high-quality documentation. We need the right to update documentation for
the same reasons we need to update and fix the software.

> i.e. the machine language (formatting, whatever) of the document can be
> converted between various formats, but the natural language used by the
> author may not be changed (except if the author permits it).

This is one of the things we must be allowed to do, but this is not enough
to include a document in main, IMHO.

> That would let us have RFCs, various FAQs (including the Linux/m68k FAQ,
> which isn't in Debian because it's not DFSG-free and I have no intention of
> making it DFSG-free), and even posts from RMS in the distribution.

I'm sorry that you don't want to make your FAQ dfsg free. However, I
strongly object against including such documents in main.

A personal email from RMS is different from technical documentation! Please
don't mix things up here.

A personal email is in fact an expression of an opinion, were a technical
document is a summary of facts (sometimes even this is not true, but I don't
want to complicate the situation).

Please read the mail from RMS once again: We need to be able to update the
technical part of a document, or otherwise the document is not worth the
bits it is written with (because we would have to rewrite it if things
change). Take the Net-3-Howto as an example, or the PPP howto. If we are not
allowed to change them, the latter will forever recommend cua? devices.
Maybe they will, but maybe we will fix it sometime.

I can't imagine why people are afraid that other people will change the
standards. Why should anybody try to apply essential changes to, for
example, the FSSTND?

1) The copyright would require to make chnages visible! So you would have to
   add a note at the top of the document, saying that you changed it and
   what you changed.
2) The document could even require a name change.
3) Nobody is afraid that someone publishes a gcc that appends to every
   executable a trojan horse. Please think a minute about this. You are
   afraid that someone will undermine a standard, but you are not afraid about
4) I didn't hear a reason why we should allow non-free documents yet.
   Why should we go away from our strict dfsg and include non-free documents
   in Debian?

Please give technical reasons, not only personal opinions. I don't understand
why the principles of Free Software shouldn't work with software
documentation, too.


"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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