Re: GNU FDL (was Re: Bug#141561: gnu-standards: Non-free =?iso-8859-15?q?software in?= main)
On Mon, 8 Apr 2002, Joseph Carter wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 08, 2002 at 09:53:54AM -0500, Jeff Licquia wrote:
> > > > DFSG stand for "Debian Free Software Guidelines".
> > >
> > > Yes, and since Debian is 100% Free Software, that applies to everything
> > > in Debian.
> > Documentation isn't software. Neither are conffiles, icons, etc. So,
> > if we're to be true to our creed, here's what we have to do:
> Ahh, but icons which fail the DFSG have been declared non-free in the
> past. So we have (still more) precedent for applying the DFSG to
The point being made, which everyone is so carfully ignoring is the word
"Software" in the title.
These are software guidelines, nothing more. They don't even define the
whole of Debian, just the software.
The differences are obvious. While my book is written in LaTeX, and the
image file (ps or pdf) is constructed from these source files via the use
of Make, it is very different from what we call software. The difference
is in the target. The output of the LaTeX "compiler" is intended to be
viewed by a human being, who, hopefully, has the capability of not
following written instructions or ignoring contrary philosophies. The
output of the C compiler is intended for a specific CPU, and all
instructions are "forced" upon that CPU with no choice over which it will
execute and which it will ignore (thank goodness for that ;-)
My freedom is enhanced by being able to make those instructions for the
CPU be just what I want them to be. (This machine IS after all my slave)
My modification needs extend over the complete work as defined by the
source, and we can all see just why this should be.
The history section in my book, which is declared invarient in the
license, was written by Ian M. and has no technical bearing on the rest of
the book's content, but has every reason to be "protected" from
modification. These particular words have a value that must be protected.
The front and back cover text may be used to give credit to someone who
provided substantial financial support during the time of the works
production. Without requiring such credit, other publishers could benefit
from the work without giving the proper credit.
None of these issues force behavior on the reader, like code does for the
CPU. So no "freedoms" are being infringed upon by forcing the text to
remain unchanged. The freedom of expression of the author is what is being
protected by this clause. The freedom to express opinion without having
those statements twisted into something completely different is one of the
reasons for the creation of the copyright in the first place.
If you insist on judging documentation against the same standard as
software, the results are always going to be wrong.
Just to contradict my previous statement:
The GPL allows (demands) two invarient sections of the original source;
the copyright statement, and the license statement. Requiring these
sections to be invarient does not make the license non-free. These
sections are, in fact, necessarily invarient if the author's and the
user's rights are to be protected.
Allowing non-technical content to be made invarient does nothing to
restrict the freedom to modify the parts of the document that are a
Using my book as an example, there have been many patches submitted either
for spelling or content. I have included all those that were correct ;-)
I have never seen the book published with changes that were not made by
me, so it isn't clear to me just what the pressing modification
requirement is in the first place...
_-_-_-_-_- Author of "Dwarf's Guide to Debian GNU/Linux" _-_-_-_-_-_-
_- aka Dale Scheetz Phone: 1 (850) 656-9769 _-
_- Flexible Software 11000 McCrackin Road _-
_- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tallahassee, FL 32308 _-
_-_-_-_-_- Released under the GNU Free Documentation License _-_-_-_-
available at: http://www.polaris.net/~dwarf/
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