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

On Wed, Nov 28, 2001 at 05:41:00PM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
>     This is one possibility I proposed to RMS.  Essentially, I proposed that
>     all Invariant Sections had to be placed in debian/copyright, and that
>     any duplicates of his Invariant text in the "actual" documentation would
>     be modifiable.
> That is unacceptable because it would allow modified versions of the
> GNU Manifesto.

...but not modified versions that carried the FSF's endorsement (unless
the FSF decided to do so), or whatever other Endorsements you wanted to
place on it under the GNU FDL.  The official version would continue to
exist in debian/copyright or some similar file.

Even today, the FSF's control over the GNU Manifesto is not complete;
someone could always author a parody of it and such a work would be
protected speech under the First Amendment, at least in the United

> The GFDL, like the previous Emacs Manual license, was designed to
> require every copy of the Emacs Manual to include an unmodified copy
> of the GNU Manifesto.

This requirement would still be met.  It would, however, permit people
to have (or not) duplicates of the GNU Manifesto inside the package,
some of which may be modified.  But that's what they would be:
duplicates.  The original, unmodified version would have to be present
under the GNU FDL and I am not asking for that to change.

I get the feeling you must be concerned about people modifying the GNU
Manifesto in bad faith -- so as to distort its meaning, for instance.
Formatting changes (making section headings larger, etc.) would probably
be unobjectionable and I'm not sure style of presentation is
well-protected under existing copyright law.

Under my proposal, people would always know where to look for the
Official Version of the GNU Manifesto, or any other Invariant text, in
the event that a package maintainer does something nefarious with his
freedom to alter (for instance) the info file.

Isn't the expectation that a Debian developer would molest the text of
the GNU Manifesto (other than to omit it, but he can't omit the one in
debian/copyright under my proposal anyway) one of those extreme
scenarios we've been discussing?  Is omission such a disaster since the
GNU Manifesto would never be truly removed from the package?
Furthermore, I doubt any package maintainer would bother, since people
who install GNU Emacs are, with all due respect, probably not gravely
concerned about economizing on disk space.  Furthermore, any such
bad-neighbor activity on the part of a Debian developer would surely get
him yelled at from within the Project.  While there are people in the
Debian Project who have varying opinions about the GNU Project and the
Free Software Foundation, I doubt there is anyone who would seriously
advocate modifying the GNU Manifesto so as to corrupt its text.

My guess is that you perceive the threat as coming from licensees of the
GNU Emacs manual that don't share the good relationship that the FSF and
Debian have.  But if the GNU FDL requires that Invariant Texts be
published in unmodified form at least once within a work, how silly is
a Big Evil O'Publisher going to look printing a GNU Manual with
"their" adulterated version of the GNU Manifesto when the real version,
complete with the Endorsements required by the GNU FDL, must also be
between the same covers?  They'd be a laughing stock, or worse (for
them), accused of a Stalinistic attempt to rewrite history as stupid as
it would be evil, since the use of the History Eraser would not be
permitted them.  They could only scrawl their bowdlerized version
alongside the original.

Again, I must emphasize the point: I am not asking that the freedom be
granted for GNU FDL licensees to omit Invariant Texts entirely.

> I hope that Debian, if it adopts a version of your guidelines, will
> modify them so as to accept the Emacs Manual.

I want to see the Emacs Manual in Debian, too, but not at any cost.  I
personally could live with it being in non-free, and encouraging people
to buy paper copies from the FSF, perhaps, but I think such a scenario
would be suboptimal, perhaps awkward, and would encourage people to blow
this difficult but cordial difference of opinion out of proportion.

G. Branden Robinson                |     You don't just decide to break
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     Kubrick's code of silence and then
branden@debian.org                 |     get drawn away from it to a
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     discussion about cough medicine.

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