Re: [rant] Re: Consequences of moving Emacs Manuals to non-free
On Tue, 14 Mar 2006 22:14:57 -0500, Michael Olson <email@example.com> said:
> Jérôme Marant <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
>> I think you will as well have to explain users why on the one hand
>> one must be free to modify source code and on the other hand why one
>> does not necessary have to be free to modify documentation.
>> While not satisfactory, I think the outcomes of the GR express some
>> kind of consistency with Debian, I think.
> What really needs explaining here is why Debian as a whole values
> being stringent about a classification of documentation as software,
> to the point of causing great inconvenience to their users. It would
> seem that Debian is becoming more of a distribution for other software
> developers than an OS for people.
Actually, in Debian's Social Contract, they have adopted the phrasing,
"We promise that the Debian system and all its components will be free
according to these guidelines," so that they avoid the ambiguity of the
The old wording, it has been argued, would not have allowed
documentation in Debian if documentation was not considered software.
The line between documentation and programs is not always clear (for
example, is a PostScript file, or a TeX file, documentation or a
program?), and I know that I appreciate not having to worry about
exactly where that line is.
I'm not sure why everyone is reacting to the Emacs Manual removal as if
it's something new. The release team has, since before sarge was
released, said that GFDLed documentation would be removed in
sarge+1=etch. See for example  and  for recent postings. In
fact, the results of the vote have *softened* Debian's stance on the
GFDL. Where before the release team's opinion was that all GFDLed
documentation would be allowed in main, the result of the vote is that
only GFDLed documentation that contains Invariant Sections, Cover Texts,
Acknowledgements, or Dedications are considered non-free. And
documentation that does contain those sections are considered free if
permission is granted to remove them.
So if anything, this latest vote allows more documentation into Debian
than what was allowed before the vote.
> Invariant sections are acceptable because modifying a personal
> position statement that someone wrote is usually not considered
> acceptable. Sometimes the position, the reason behind the software,
> is more significant than the work itself.
Nobody (in Debian) is interested in trying to modify a document to make
it seem like somebody's personal opinion is something other than what it
is. AFAIK, that is already covered by laws other than copyright.
And again, I will note that the latest vote says that the documentation
would be considered free if permission was granted to remove the
invariant section completely.
Hubert Chan - email & Jabber: email@example.com - http://www.uhoreg.ca/
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