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Re: O: gnu-standards -- GNU coding standards

Replies to -legal if you must make them. This list is for development
issues, not boring license pedantry.

On Tue, Apr 09, 2002 at 12:12:41AM -0500, Jeff Licquia wrote:
> On Mon, 2002-04-08 at 20:53, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > Why should the DFSG have to worry about such philosophical questions?
> > Why isn't it enough to worry about the license?
> Because software isn't documentation?

Uh, you mean "documentation isn't software". And I'm sorry, but that's
quite debatable. It's quite a valid interpretation of "software" to be the
"stuff" that's implied by all the one's and zero's in memory however those
one's and zero's might be represented, as opposed to "hardware" which
actually has a physical existance. In that case anything stored in a .deb
is software, compared to, say, a book, which is fairly primitive hardware.

> Think of it this way: national security would be so much easier to
> maintain if we could just define cryptography as a weapon of war,
> equivalent to a nuclear device, "for the purposes of the import
> regulations".  We all know how well that worked.

Quite well, in that very little cryptography was exported from the United
States. It's unfortunate, in a sense, that unlike other tools of war,
cryptography is very easy to develop outside the US, so a block on
exports doesn't really do much good.

> Similarly, it would be a lot easier to just define documentation to be
> software "for the purposes of the DFSG".  But does it make sense?

Well, yes it does. It's even simple. "Any content you distribute in
the .deb must have a DFSG-free license", although you have to add the
careful proviso that the license itself shouldn't be considered "content"
or gets a special exemption, or something similar.

A question you could reasonably ask is "is it useful to have all the same
freedoms for documentation that we expect for programs?" And really, it
_is_ useful. Being able to cut out all the irrelevant bits of a document
and distribute an abbreviated version you can store on your PDA, or being
able to translate it, or being able to change it to match the changes in
your program, or being able to correct it on factual errors, or being
able to rip out bits of opinion which aren't interesting or useful to
you or the people to whom you want to make copies are all reasonable
and productive things to do.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

     ``BAM! Science triumphs again!'' 
                    -- http://www.angryflower.com/vegeta.gif

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