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

On Tue, Nov 27, 2001 at 02:34:19AM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
>     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.
> GNU Emacs comes with some auxiliary material (non-technical articles)
> that does not allow modification.  I think that should be ok
> because they are non-technical.

That's a perfectly legitimate position in its own right, but it cannot
reasonably be construed from the text of the DFSG.  For us to
consistently permit such text into packages in main, we must make a
statement on the subject.  Some might argue that we need to amend the

Is all of the non-technical documentation in the Emacs manual really
Secondary Text?  While it may not serve a tutorial or reference purpose,
neither is (some of) it material like acknowledgements.  If I recall
correctly, some of it consists of editorial articles.  This seems to be
to be stretching the purpose of a Secondary Section.  Or is the FSF's
intent to permit people to use the GNU FDL to protect a 3-page reference
card for some program, accompanied by a 100-page novella which begins,
"It was a dark and stormy night..."?, and mark the latter Invariant so
that no one can remove it?

> On the other hand, there are some LDP HOWTOs which have restrictive
> license.  Since they really are technical documentation, that is a
> real problem.

Personally I find any restrictively licensed material a real problem,
whether it's technical or artistic in nature, but I admit that I'm a
radical.  On a more relevant note, I have to wonder what business Debian
has distributing large quantities of material that *isn't* technical,
even if a documentation license compels us to do so or reject the work

Hence my arbitrary 16kB (for non-documentation) and 5% (for
documentation) limits.  I understand that you dislike these, but do you
see anything wrong with me piggybacking my very large and sorry attempt
at the Great American Novel on some documentation I may have written for,
say, the SDL library, and using the GNU FDL to do it?  All I have to do is
opine about how my novel is about the sad plight of an erstwhile DirectX
programmer who is hunted by mysterious MIB's with glasses and bad
haircuts who threaten to arrest him, or kill his family, for using
"Pac-Man"-like software which consumes all in its path, and destroys the
Great American Way of one monolithic company per market sector?  Who can
objectively prove that the novel isn't thus a "matter of historical
connection with the subject or with related matters, or of legal,
commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position regarding
them"?  How much is a copyright holder permitted to inconvenience the
user before he becomes a "parasite"?

G. Branden Robinson                |    Somewhere, there is a .sig so funny
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    that reading it will cause an
branden@debian.org                 |    aneurysm.  This is not that .sig.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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