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Re: PROPOSED: interpretive guidelines regarding DFSG 3, modifiability, and invariant text

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:

> Agreed.  I will continue to assert that there is an extra level of
> scrutiny required for GNU FDL-licensed material that is inapplicable to
> GNU GPL-licensed material.  If all copyright within a GPL'ed work is
> consistent and accurate, then it's fine; it is impossible for an
> author/copyright holder to misapply the GNU GPL to his own work.  The
> same is not true of the GNU FDL.


> > > You are asking us to allow a lot more non-modifiable, and thus non-Free,
> > > material into Debian than we currently do.  I find this stance
> > > unacceptable.
> > 
> > Really?  I'm stunned that you could say this.
> I don't see why.  It is pretty obvious to me that the existing DFSG
> provides no exceptions to clause 3.  The work must be modifiable and
> modified versions must be redistributable under the same license as
> the original.  Period.  It doesn't say "except for the license text
> itself".  That is a de facto exception that Debian has made in the
> past.  As far as I know, we have made no others, except by accident.

Nope, the de facto exceptions have included such things as the Emacs
manual *from day one*.  

Moreover, the DFSG applies to *software* by its own explicit terms,
and we simply have never had (nor needed) to worry over much about
other kinds of material.  Things which do not directly impact the
freedom of *software* are separate.

That aside, I agree completely that we should try to avoid
non-modifiable text where we can, but that comprimises about this do
not implicate our core principles they way they would when it comes to

> > 4) We would prefer it if other text not falling in categories (1),
> >    (2), and (3) also permitted modification, but we recognize that
> >    many of them historically have not (the Manifesto chapter of the
> >    Emacs manual, for example).  We think that it's OK for Debian to
> >    include such things, but we are nervous and sketchy about it.  We
> >    think at the least the following should be true:
> >    a) No bending on principles (1) and (2).
> >    b) Any such unmodifiable text must be a small portion of the
> >       package.
> I agree with this, however I think you need to consider the possibility
> of things other than text being held unmodifiable.  Shall we permit that
> or not?

What sorts of things do you have in mind?

If we must have a "bright line" principle, then I would prefer one
expressed as a percentage of total size of the package, and which does
not depend on the sort of package or text involved.

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