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Re: REVISED PROPOSAL regarding DFSG 3 and 4, licenses, and modifiable text

On Tue, Dec 11, 2001 at 11:58:55AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 11, 2001 at 02:31:55PM +0000, Stephen Turner wrote:
> > > Are you trying to make emacs20 non-free?
> > With no disrespect to the FSF, I think that Debian should decide its policy
> > by considering the merits of competing arguments. It shouldn't write policy
> > in order to keep any particular package or packages out of non-free.
> I completely agree, but aj does not appear to share this premise

I consider "being able to distribute the FSF's stuff in main" both a goal,
and a useful indication of how satisfactory the DFSG is (since the Free
Software Foundation are the authoritative source for one definition of

I'm not at all impressed with the gdb docs; and I'm becoming increasingly
convinced that generalising the FSF's desire to ram political screeds
down everyone's throats to allowing anyone to shove their favourite rant
into Debian is a really bad idea, and that seems to be the sole purpose
of the GNU FDL.

If I were supreme overlord of the world, I'd rather make an exemption
to the DFSG for a handful of stuff like the GNU Manifesto, the DFSG,
the Social Contract, the Debian Manifesto and put them all in a separate
package somewhere obvious, and not include unmodifiable and unremovable
rants anywhere else in the distro. It's just not the place for them,
and it doesn't generalise.

(Why should I have to look through the emacs manual, or somewhere obscure
in /usr/lib/emacs to find the GNU Manifesto? If I use Vi, am I not allowed
to support the ideals of free software? What relevance does RMS's Free
Documentation rant have to do with glibc internals?)

Following this line of argument leads me to either saying:
	* No unmodifiable text is allowed, apart from the license; or
	* Unmodifiable text is allowed, but must be permitted to be removed
either of which would drop a lot of GNU docs from main.

So, we've got four choices:

	a) Ignore the issue, hope it goes away, be inconsistent
	b) Special case RMS/the FSF
	c) Allow it for *everyone*
	d) Drop the GNU manuals as non-free, and write our own essay
	   about the importance of free documentation...

(a) and (b) suck for obvious reasons, but at least *work*.
(c) seems like it'd quickly result in every other quick hack's manpage
    containing the results of some bright-eyed epiphany about why software
    design really isn't important after all, or how free software sucks and
    open source rules, or how we should all just get along, or why George
    W.'s really a terrorist and how the USA's been asking for it all these
    years anyway, or somethin about some other exciting issue of the day.
(d) makes it hard for users to access a lot of good documentation, that's
    "widely" considered "free".

Of course, we do still have non-free, so (d) isn't that bad, I
suppose. And the results of us doing it would probably be like a "4th
of July" show (says someone who's never been in the US on July 4th),
and free entertainment is always good...


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

 "Security here. Yes, maam. Yes. Groucho glasses. Yes, we're on it.
   C'mon, guys. Somebody gave an aardvark a nose-cut: somebody who
    can't deal with deconstructionist humor. Code Blue."
		-- Mike Hoye,
		      see http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/armadillos.txt

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