Re: New OPL Draft
Branden Robinson wrote:
> It's not yet well known outside the project, but we have recently created a
> new section of our archive called "data", which comprises non-executing
> data of any format.
> I think it may be possible to extend the DFSG a little bit to permit
> information under RMS's libertarian license-in-development, as well as
> information under the "VPL" (Verbatim Publication License) as it applies to
> non-executing data. This would enable us to endorse as "free", not just
> "book" type works of an artistic bent, but also things like certain kinds
> of geographic data sets which could be staggeringly useful but which are
> not licensed for modification, and even fun things like game levels for
> Doom/Quake/Descent and such. Many level designers for games take artistic
> pride in their work -- quite justifiably in many cases -- and would like
> their textures, polymodels, sound effects, et al. to remain unaltered. I
> think an approach that enables us to welcome these people into the free
> software community unreservedly, with no risk of them being characterized
> as "bad citizens" just for taking this attitude towards their data, is a
> good thing.
You can count my vote as a "Please don't".
I don't believe there is any good reason to compromise the intent of the
DFSG just to have some non-executable data included as "free" rather
than "non-free". What good arguments are there in favour of treating
non-executable works any differently from executable works? What is it
that sets one arrangement of bits aside as being "Ok to call free even
if you can't modify it" and others not ok? If you can't modify it, or
even portions of it, it is a compromised freedom, no matter the nature
of the data.
How will you define such "non executing data" ? Are scripts such as
bash, perl or awk executable, or are they data read and used by the
logic of some other executable program? Is C Source executable? Does
documentation not embody defined logic and procedure? Are images, sounds
and sentences not interpreted by something?
I've never bought the argument that documentation is different from
software because documentation is more an expression of artistic work
than software. I don't believe this at all. To portray "games level
design" as an artistic form and software development as not, I believe,
is to denegrate software development as a form devoid of imagination,
creativity and inspiration. Is not the application itself the artistic
expression in the same way that it is the painting, not the brush
strokes that are the art of the canvas world?