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Re: The GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) and /usr/share/common-licenses

begin  Dale Scheetz  quotation:

> On Sun, 7 Apr 2002, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > As usual, this issue has been beaten to death on a list you don't read.
> > 
> > Please review the archives of debian-legal for the past several months.
> > 
> > In a nutshell:
> > 
> > 1) The current version of the GNU FDL is uncontroversially DFSG-free if
> > there are no Cover Texts and no Invariant Sections.  Note that your
> > license notice is supposed to indicate the presence or absence of Cover
> > Texts and Invariant Sections.
> > 
> > 2) The Open Publication License (OPL), is also uncontroversially
> > DFSG-free when none of the "license options" are exercised.
> So, in fact, both of these licenses are non-free, as they contain clauses
> that can be used, and will be considered non-free.

No. Specific optional aspects of the licenses, which are required by the
licenses themselves to be declared in the license notice contained in
the covered document, are non-free. The licenses can be used to make
documents DFSG-free, and I believe DFSG/OPL documents are essentially
DFSG-free by default, since the conflicts arise only when these options
are explicitly invoked by the copyright holder in the license notice.

> I find it ... foolish to declare a license to be free IFF some clauses of
> the license are not exercised. Using this language, any proprietary
> license becomes free as long as none of the proprietary sections are
> inforced by the author...

Let's try this again, as you seem to have misunderstood what Branden

If a document is covered by GFDL and contains no Cover Texts or
Invariant Sections, then that document is, according to Branden,
uncontroversially DFSG-free. (I say "according to Branden" because I
don't read debian-legal either, nor have I taken the time to check the

If a document is covered by OPL, and the license notice does not declare
any non-DFSG-free options, then that document is, according to Branden,
uncontroversially DFSG-free.

This has nothing to do with "enforcing" license terms after the fact, so
your claim that "any proprietary license becomes free ... [if] not
[e]nforced by the author" is a complete non sequitur. It has, instead,
to do with how the license is applied to the document in the first
place. If a GFDL document has Cover Texts or Invariant Sections, those
sections must be explicitly identified by the copyright holder in the
document's license notice (I believe this is a requirement of the GFDL
itself). If no such sections are identified, then the document is fully
modifiable, and therefore DFSG-free.

Why you find this hard to understand is a bit of a mystery to me.


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