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Re: The old DFSG-lemma again...

On Tue, Nov 06, 2001 at 10:27:23PM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
> Not quite--because you have to check that it really IS licensed
> properly and clearly under the GPL.  Sometimes the developer *says*
> this, but when you scan the source files, you see one of them was
> copied from another package and has an incompatible license, maybe
> even a non-free license.

Point taken.  I'll have to plead the fifth when it comes to how much
scrutiny I think a lot of packages in Debian get before they're accepted
into the project, but it's possible our archive administrators pick up
the slack that novice developers leave.

> I think "scour" is too strong a word.  The invariant sections have to
> be listed in the notice that says the work is under the GFDL.

Yes, but again, you're relying on the honor system and hoping authors
will be principled.  It's not the FSF I'm afraid of.  It's people who use
the GNU FDL with less than pure intentions[1].  To the extent that the GNU
FDL "takes off" and becomes successful, this risk becomes greater.

>     Would it be objectionable to the Free Software Foundation if the Debian
>     Project adopted a policy of accepting works licensed under the GNU FDL
>     as Free Software only if they contained no Invariant Sections or Cover
>     Texts (except for narrowly-construed notices of authorship, and the
>     license text)?
> This would mean you would reject many of our manuals--perhaps all of
> them.  I would be rather unhappy about that.

Me too!  In my last reply to Thomas Bushnell I proposed another
modification of my proposal that might permit the GNU Manuals through
the gate while excluding potential manuals ridden with Invariant Texts.

> We want to encourage widespread use of the FDL for two reasons:
> 1. It leads to a pool of text that can be copied between manuals.

It is not obvious to me how the OPL fails here.

> 2. It is (or at least ought to be) good for helping commercial
> publishers succeed publishing free manuals.

The restrictions that come into force under the GNU FDL in the "Copying
in Quantity" section, and the restrictions that are always in force for
"standard (paper) book form" under the OPL look very, very similar to

I think authors of GNU FDL works should be encouraged to waive the
"Copying in Quantity" section of the license if they wish, i.e., render
it optional.  Is that something the FSF is willing to mull over?

> By contrast, the OPL has a major flaw: the two enticing options,
> either of which, if used, makes the whole manual non-free.

Agreed.  There is no way either of those options don't run badly afoul
of the DFSG.

> You could argue that the GFDL has a similar problem, that someone
> might declare too much to be invariant.  But this is not exactly the
> same kind of situation, because the GFDL says this is not proper,
> while the OPL says it is entirely proper.

I agree with sentiment.  I just am not convinced that there are remedies
available if the copyright holder of a GNU FDL-licensed work decides to
not abide by the rules.  I suppose the license text itself could say
that any Invariant Sections and Cover Texts not appropriately identified
as such lose their status as such.  While I'd love to see such a
development, I'm not sure how much it would temper my stance on how I
think the DFSG should be enforced for Debian.  Given Debian's focus on
software and its documentation, as opposed to the distribution of
traditional artistic works, I really think things like Invariant
Sections and Cover Texts should be kept to a minimum in our distribution.

[1] It's easier than ever to sue someone for copyright infringement in
the United States these days, and the law and the courts have been
steadily eroding the plaintiff's burden of proof for many years.  Courts
hand out prior restraints in the form of TRO's and PI's like Halloween
candy, and you have to appeal to a State Supreme Court for this garbage
to be recognized for what it is.  Sorry, I'll stop ranting now.

G. Branden Robinson                |     Communism is just one step on the
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     long road from capitalism to
branden@debian.org                 |     capitalism.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- Russian saying

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