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

On Mon, Nov 26, 2001 at 10:52:43PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Nope, the de facto exceptions have included such things as the Emacs
> manual *from day one*.  

To what extent is this true by design, and to what extent by accident?

I know some folks might find this horribly offensive, but many people
may have been (and perhaps many still are) unaware of this defacto
unmodifiable text in packages in main because they *don't read* the GNU

Horrors, some of them may not even use Emacs...

> 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.

True; hence the fact that one position I'm comfortable with is an
iron-fisted interpretation of the DFSG.  If Debian packages it, it's
software.  If you don't meet the DFSG, you can't be part of Debian.
Many potential GNU FDL-licensed works, including the GNU Manuals, run
afoul of the most reasonable reading of DFSG 3.  Hence my efforts at
compromise.  I don't think that the exclusion of GNU Manuals from the
Debian distribution is a desirable end.  However, if Debian has to
"purchase" the GNU Manuals' inclusion in main by bartering away its
right to prevent egregious abuses of DFSG 3, I'm comfortable falling
back on my stricter standard.

Debian's priorities are its users and Free Software.  Debian will remain
100% Free Software.

If Free Documentation is not to play by the same rules as Free Software,
so be it.

Hence the appeal to me of the OPL, with the optional clauses verboten.

> 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
> software. 

I disagree.  I think there's a much fuzzier line between software and
documentation than you seem to.  See my earlier messages for many

> > 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?

Images of corporate logos, which may be trademarked.  That's just one
example.  At least in the U.S., people can attempt to assert trademark
over all sorts of things.  I think NBC has successfully done so with
their little arpeggiated triad, as ridiculous as this sounds.

> 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.

I agree with the former part.  Hence my efforts to equate text with
non-text, and eliminate ambiguity when it comes to textual layout.  With
the latter, I'm not so sure.  I like the existing strict standard that
we apply to packages currently in main (notwithstanding some of the GNU
documentation that remains in main simply because no one has made a fuss
about it yet).  I'd like to keep that strict standard where it already

G. Branden Robinson                |     Never attribute to malice that
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     which can be adequately explained
branden@debian.org                 |     by stupidity.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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