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

On Wed, Nov 28, 2001 at 05:40:46PM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
> No position on this question can be construed from the DFSG.  The
> question is what right criterion to use in a specific part of your
> proposed guidelines.  The DFSG does not say much about this whole
> area, which is why you are proposing to write guidelines.

I don't think it's true that *no* position can be construed.  The most
reasonable interpretation of DFSG 3 in and of itself is that everything
packaged by Debian must be modifiable and redistributable under the
original license, with no exceptions.

However, that interpretation has practical problems, as everyone knows.
I'm not interested in doing my impression of Antonin Scalia.

>     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?
> That's another case of arguing for one extreme by proposing an
> opposite extreme.  Why choose between extremes?

Binary search.  If we both agree that the extremes of "absolutely
everything must be modifiable" and "shipping a Invariant novel with your
technical documentation" are both unreasonable, at least we know that it
is possible that there is point on the continuum in between that will be
satisfactory to both of us.  If you were in militant support of the
"novel" scenario, or if I felt like being a strict constructionist about
DFSG 3, there wouldn't be any ground upon which to negotiate further.

It remains to be seen whether our respective penumbras of tolerance
overlap, let alone whether the FSF and Debian generally can agree upon
this issue, but I'm eager to continue working with you on it.

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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