Re: Gnus Manual License
On Wed, 11 Oct 2006 00:29:21 +0200, David Kastrup <firstname.lastname@example.org> said:
> Hubert Chan <email@example.com> writes:
>> In that case, what you wrote doesn't make sense to me.
>> If I make false claims, then the FSF has to bear the consequences?
> If they demand that you make false claims, yes, they have to bear the
Well, they are not actually demanding that I make false claims. They
are demanding that if I modify, then I will have to make false claims.
Which is a different matter, and I do not see as a general waiver. If I
cannot legally satisfy the conditions of the license, then I cannot
To take a more extreme example, if I release something under a license
that states that if you redistribute it, then you have to kill me, does
that mean that I have just given everyone permission to kill me, or does
that mean that nobody is legally allowed to redistribute?
Or, a different example, if I have two pieces of software, A and B, both
copyrighted by the same person, and A is licensed under the GPL, and B
is under some proprietary non-free license, then if I want to combine A
and B, and release it to the public, then the copyright holder, by
releasing A under the GPL, _demands_ that I also release the combined
work under the GPL. So would you say that I now have the copyright
holder's permission to release the combined work under the GPL, or am I
not legally allowed to release the combined work at all?
As anyone who has taken a logic course should know, "if A then B" means
"B or not A".
> You asked "Is the FSF OK with this", and yes, they _have_ to be OK
> with this since they demanded you put "A GNU Manual" on every work
> derived from the GNU Manual.
Is this an official statement on behalf of the FSF, or is this just your
opinion based on your understanding of the license?
>> Three words or a zillion texts, I'm just trying to point out the
>> situation that it can lead to.
> If that's the worst you can point out...
I was just taking your suggestion of "'A GNU Manual' 'Converted to a
Microsoft share'" to its logical conclusion.
>>> certainly much less than in the BSD advertising clause. That is
>> I never said that I was OK with the BSD advertising clause.
> Licenses are always a compromise. The question is not whether the
> GFDL is perfect. Or whether it can be improved. The question is
> whether it is tolerable. And if not, what parts are missing.
... which has nothing to do with my opinion on the BSD advertising
>>> Then add "changed outside the GNU project" after it, and nobody need
>>> ever add another line in order to keep it true.
>> "A GNU Manual" "changed outside the GNU project" -- it still claims
>> to be a GNU manual.
> Then add "(at one time)" after it if that suits you better.
(Of course, this puts the FSF in a rather odd situation, if they ever
want to take parts of "'A GNU Manual' '(at one time)'" and incorporate
it back into their own work. Then again, the FSF requires copyright
assignment for GNU software, which would allow them to do anything they
want with it, so I guess they don't care too much about this particular
> But if some died-in-the-wool package maintainer decided he wants to
> throw out the GFDLed version, or some contributor states that he will
> only contribute under the GPL, then the material is no longer usable
Correction: it is no longer usable upstream _under the GFDL_. But yes,
that is more or less correct.
>>> Straw man. Why should the FSF be interested in lowering the
>>> protection it can provide for software and documentation to remain
>> I don't see how the GPL is any less free than the GFDL.
> Straw man. I was not talking about "less free". I was talking about
> "less protection". If the FSF was only worried about "less free",
> they could use the MIT X11 license and be done with it.
Sorry, by "less free", I meant in terms of guaranteeing continued
freedom (and yes, it was a poor choice of words). I don't see the GFDL
as providing any more significant protection of freedoms.
You have been saying that the GFDL makes it easier for printing than the
GPL, but I don't see that as "lowering the protection".
>>>>> For example, GFDL-hostile entities like Debian will be free to
>>>>> distribute the material GPL-only, meaning that it will become
>>>>> impossible to reasonably create printed copies.
>>>> Even in that case, it would only prevent them from creating printed
>>>> copies if they obtained the document only from Debian.
>>> Which is the whole point of the GNU public licenses: your source for
>>> the binaries is the channel responsible for providing the source
>> Of course. But they can still obtain a separate license by other
> No. The license is something that accompanies _copies_ and is valid
> for _copies_. It is not something you can pick off from anywhere you
> want to and attach it to some piece of software.
Straw man. I'm not talking about picking off a random license and
attaching it to whatever you download from Debian. I'm talking about
getting permission from the copyright holder, which they have already
> If Debian licensed software to you under the GPL, you _can't_ just
> pass it on under a different license.
A license is permission from the copyright holder to perform certain
actions with the work beyond what copyright law allows. Regardless of
where you downloaded it from, if you still have permission from the
copyright holder to distribute it under the GFDL, then you have
permission to distribute under the GFDL.
If you want to talk about stupid lawsuits, "You downloaded the document
from Debian instead of from the FSF, therefore you can't use the GFDL"
is a far more stupid lawsuit than "You can't call a non-GNU manual 'A
GNU Manual'" (which actually is a valid complaint).
>> If the documentation is unmodified (which it usually is, in Debian,
>> except for possibly a few minor Debian-specific things), they still
>> have the FSF's permission to print it under the conditions of the
> But the point is not to be able to get some upstream version of
> software. The point is to be able to use the version _as_ _provided_
> _by_ Debian, and that requires a license from Debian.
No, it requires a license from the copyright holder. Only if Debian
changes the document, then you would have a problem with using the GFDL,
although I believe you can still use the non-Debian bits.
> No freedom would be lost to Debian, but Debian would be free to remove
> the possibility of having their modifications available to users under
> the GFDL. ...
Which, in practical terms, Debian-specific modifications to
documentation are nearly nil.
> ... And given the amount of hostility of Debian developers towards the
> GFDL, it is not unlikely at all that exactly this would happen.
Actually, given that Debian developers are supposed to pass their
changes upstream, and work closely with upstream as much as possible,
this is highly unlikely.
And Debian developers are, for the most part, not hostile to the GFDL.
Most are hostile to non-modifiable bits being included within Debian,
which the GFDL allows under certain circumstances. If you'll recall the
GR, Debian voted to allow GFDLed documentation if it didn't have any
>>> If that was something that the FSF was willing to accept, it would
>>> not ever have created the GPL but rather went with a free-for-all
>>> license like MIT. The reasoning being that since Microsoft would
>>> not provide source code anyway, no freedom is lost by handing over
>>> all GNU software to be embedded in binary only material.
>> Straw man. You are comparing Microsoft moving free software into
>> proprietary software, with Debian distributing documentation under a
>> different-but-still-free license.
> Why should Debian be able to remove the way the FSF provided for
> printing a manual?
And again, how does the GPL present insurmountable barriers to mass
Hubert Chan - email & Jabber: firstname.lastname@example.org - http://www.uhoreg.ca/
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