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Re: Final Draft: Interpretive Guideline regarding DFSG clause 3

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On Wednesday 12 December 2001 12:56, Branden Robinson wrote:

> 3) Works licensed under the GNU FDL meet the DFSG if:
>    A) there are no Invariant Sections[*]; or
>    B) the only Invariant Sections consist of license texts which
>       apply to a work, or a substantively related work (such as the
>       program being documented, in the case of a manual).

So the crux of this proposal is that emacs (a signature piece in the history 
of the Free Software) at least be moved into non-free, unless one includes 
only older versions of the package-- before the GFDL was applied to the 
manual/info text sections.

In the source tarball from the FSF-- I'm unable to find an emacs > 19 source 
.deb, but it's the first time I've ever looked for a source .deb, so maybe 
I'm not looking in the right place-- emacs-21.1/etc/* contains numerous 
non-free, non-GFDL documents. So perhaps this is a necessary move on the part 
of the Debian community to get the FSF to clean up the emacs package a bit-- 
but it might be better swept under the rug for now and submitted as a bug 

But even if they do clean it up, as long as the GFDL is used for the manual, 
I can't see them as willing to take the Manifesto out of the invariant 
sections list for the GNU Emacs Manual. And with good reason.

Invariant sections can form an integral part of a manual/book, but one which 
does not affect the usability of the manual if shared. The portions you must 
be able to modify relate to the usage of the software-- so that if the 
software changes the manual can change with it.

(imho) There is no reason to change the portion of the manual relating to 
the historical rationale for the development of the software, or the 
philosophy of Free Software, or the dedication of countless man-hours to 
one's dearly departed canine companion-- unless you are redistributing the 
manual and you hated the original author's dog because it bit you, in which 
case you might attach as invariant section your own screed about how great 
your cat is and how it can kick any dog's butt one pawed. And at some point 
the invariant section flamefest outweighs the utility of the manual itself 
and some bright writer or group of writers simply writes a different manual 
from scratch.

While it is easy to see why it is inconvenient to have to decide on a 
case-by-case basis whether the document in question is "free enough" or 
appropriate for you, it seems unlikely that we're going to see massive abuse 
of the GFDL. If someone wants to include a whole novel as an invariant 
section of their manual, I assume the rest of their manual is proportionally 
larger and of extremely high quality. Otherwise no one in their right mind 
will accept the manual in the first place...

I hope that Debian will not decide to adopt a proposal which essentially 
declares the GFDL a non-free license under some circumstances, especially 
since this will affect the contents of the main tree. If there is a single 
piece of GNU software that does not qualify for main, then it kind of makes 
the phrase "Debian GNU/Linux" a little funny, doesn't it?

I apologize for the length of this email, but I've been following this thread 
in silence up to now, and I wanted to get my thoughts into a single, 
hopefully coherent form before sharing them.

  --Michael Libby ( x@ichimunki.com )

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