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Re: Amendment to GR on GFDL, and the changes to the Social Contract

Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> writes:

> On Sat, Feb 11, 2006 at 01:23:03PM +0100, J??r??me Marant wrote:
>> For instance, how does shipping Emacs with verbatim essays from RMS, the GNU
>> Manifesto, and any other stuffs like that makes it non-free?  Will removing
>> them make Debian more free?  I doubt anyone is going to convince me of this,
>> despite the interpretation of the SC.
> Shipping those verbatim essays wouldn't be a major problem, IMO;
> adding a loophole to ship _any_ verbatim essay would be -- we're about
> free software, so while we might want to make an exception for verbatim
> essays that happen to be important to that goal in an historical sense,
> there's no benefit to us of having an exception so large that we start
> distributing verbatim essays on anything and everything.

I'd prefer that we consider every case separately instead of blindly trying
to apply rules to everything.

Those essays deal with free software and are moeover very small files
within the huge Emacs beast.
It could be different if they were not dealing with free software and
were about 50% of the Emacs tarball.

> If we /were/ to have such a limited exception, we'd also want it to be
> one we could change our minds on. If we distribute "funding free software"
> as a useful text today, we might change our minds in a decade and decide
> that it isn't actually all that relevant, and isn't even an important
> document in the history of free software, and want to remove it.

I think it would be sane to have exceptions.

> Which is fine if it's a separate document we made an exception for, but if
> it's an irremovable part of our compiler manual, we're stuck. And worse,
> we've just spent ten years encouraging people to provide improvements
> to that compile manual, so if we want to revert to an earlier version
> that didn't have that text, we've also lost all those changes.
> In any event, if we were to make an exception for documents that were
> important to free software, hiding them away in the emacs package -- or
> for that matter, in the gcc info page -- is a really daft way of doing it.

I agree that it makes sense to be able to freely modify documentation because
modifying programs often means changing their documentation accordingly.

Jérôme Marant

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