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Re: Documentation/License freeness

On Mon, Jun 08, 1998 at 01:22:33AM +0200, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> 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
>    gcc?
> 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.
> Marcus
> -- 
> "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

I'm not sure I understand you well but here is my opinions about freeness
of Documentation:

Documentation describing the functionnality of a software are dependant
of the software. Then, they should be considered as source by the DFSG.
The reason underlying this is the same as why bad documentation is
considered like a bug. The DFSG must be apply to them. This included most
FAQ, manual and source.

Not technical documentation can be divised in two kind. Author works and
Official Documents. Author works must not be changed. They express the
opinions and observations from a person and can even be a description of
something. They have the particularity to be fixed in time and always
can't be fixed because heavily link to a given author and a given time.
White Paper, most e-mails, and document such as "Homesteading in the
Noosphere" or "Le Corbeau et le Renard" from Jean de la Fontaine, are
of this kind. I considered this work free enough for Debian when simple
verbatim reproduction, with or without a fee, are permitted without
conditions. Even unofficial translations can be prohibited because we
can't decided if the translation really correctly reflect the thought
of the author.

Official document are like author works. They are bound with a specified
time  and loose all their value if modifications are done freely on them.
However, translations should be permitted given it is clearly mark as
a translation and that the authors are [may be] not accepting the work
as a verbatim copy of the original. DFSG compliance can may be need
modifications with version and/or title change [because people need to
know what we are talking about], but aren't necessary IMHO.

Finally, it's possible for a document to included both technical part
and non-technical part. The license should then permit the technical part
to be changed accordingly to the source to be DFSG compliant.

What we need to keep in mind with deciding if a document is DFSG compliant
is the user point of view. If it does more harm to allow modifications
in a document, regarding both the historical aspect and the technical
point of view, documents don't need to allow modifications. Allowing
no verbatim modifications on Author Works can harm [just see what out-of-
context citations can do in press media and you should understand me.].

Not allowing translation of Official Documents are, IMHO, discrimination.
This documents needs to be known by everybody. However, other modifications
can lead to the distribution of different standards whom all share the
same name, which as everybody know is worst than not having any standard
at all. Finally, source needs to be fixed and technical documentation
who are not compliant with the source are already broken. Not allowe the
documentation to be fixed is a bug in itself.

All that's IM[NS]HO.
Fabien Ninoles                                  Running Debian/GNU Linux
E-mail:                                                    fab@tzone.org
WebPage:                      http://www.callisto.si.usherb.ca/~94246757
WorkStation [available when connected!]:     http://nightbird.tzone.org/
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