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Re: Intent to mass-file bugs: FDL/incorrect copyright files

On Thu, Nov 18, 2004 at 05:18:13PM -0800, Steve Langasek wrote:
> Oh, for God's sake, pull your head out of the sand.  We had a
> three-month-long flamewar this year about whether and when data should
> be subject to the DFSG, and it was a heated flamewar precisely because
> *everyone involved understood the consequences of removing non-free
> documentation from main*.  Why do we need to have another flamewar
> about whether a clearly non-free license is non-free, on no other
> basis than that you have a grudge against the license evaluation
> process?
> Have you read
> <http://people.debian.org/~srivasta/Position_Statement.xhtml>?  Are
> you aware that Manoj, and many of the other signatories listed on that
> page, are not part of the debian-legal group whose efforts at
> understanding licenses you so rudely dismiss?  Do you understand that
> the GFDL question has been discussed among a much larger audience than
> debian-legal, 

Actually, no, I haven't seen much discussion outside of debian-legal.
Do you have any links to other discussions?

> and *no one* has offered arguments to support the claim
> that none of the issues raised in Manoj's position statement are DFSG
> problems?
> It's true that there's not a consensus about whether the DFSG *should*
> apply to data and documentation (although there was a sufficient
> majority sharing this belief for the GR on the question to stand), but
> there is certainly a consensus about whether the GFDL is a DFSG-free
> license.  

I didn't, or at least didn't mean to, say there isn't a consensus that
the GFDL is not DFSG-compliant.  Invariant sections are obviously
non-free according to the DFSG.  The other problems with the GFDL are
problematic, yes, but not so obviously non-free (at least to me).

What I'm trying to argue is that there is no consensus that GFDL
documents should be removed from Debian, even if they are not entirely
free.  I think it's a much deeper issue than simply complying with the

> If you don't actually have anything new to contribute to the
> understanding of the GFDL vis ? vis the DFSG, I'd suggest there are
> better ways you could be helping Debian besides sticking your fingers
> in your ears and chanting "there is no consensus" on a public mailing
> list.  How about rewriting GFDL documentation, or fixing currently
> open RC bugs?

Rewriting GFDL documentation is not a particularly good solution, since
it's essentially creating a fork from upstream that will need to be
maintained.  It makes far more sense to convince upstreams to relicense
their documentation.  However, the majority of the free software
community seems to be willing to accept the GFDL as free enough for
their needs.  I highly doubt it would be possible to convince many
upstreams to change.  Essentially what we'll have to do is convince
upstreams that Debian's definition of "free" is superior to the FSF's
definition.  There's a good chance we'd get laughed out of the room...

By expelling the GFDL from Debian, we would distance ourselves from the
rest of the free software community (and would violate the SC, since it
says our priorities are "free software"?).  That seems like a big
freakin deal to me.  We really need to be sure that's a good idea and is
what we want to do before making that commitment.

What really frustrates me about the whole GFDL situation and invokes me
to start these flamewars is that no one seems to be questioning *our*
definition of "free".  We readily reject the FSF's definition, but no
one questions whether *we're* the ones that need to pull our heads out
of the sand and adapt the DFSG to match the rest of the free software

I think it's great that Debian has thoroughly reviewed the GFDL and
pointed out the problems in the license.  Certainly we should not
mindlessly follow the FSF--they have their owns goals that may not match
Debian's goals.  However, we must also be careful not to mindlessly
follow the DFSG--after all, it was written in a different time when
little thought was given to documentation licenses.  It's entirely
possible for us to decide that the GFDL does not meet our goals and must
not be allowed in Debian.  That decision should not be made by
debian-legal alone by simply applying the DFSG to the GFDL.  It should
only be made after accounting for *all* of the issues involved.  I
fear that is not happening.

I'll step off the soapbox now.  Thanks for listening.

For every sprinkle I find, I shall kill you!

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