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Re: Final Draft: Interpretive Guideline regarding DFSG clause 3

On Thu, Dec 13, 2001 at 08:00:53AM -0600, ichimunki wrote:
> > My previous proposal ("REVISED PROPOSAL") would in fact have let the GCC
> > and Emacs manuals be interpreted as DFSG-free works.  It was rejected by
> > other developers on this list.
> Was this because they find texts like the Manifesto completely unacceptable 
> in a package purporting to be free, or because they had concerns about using 
> a byte limit to determine the validity of the usage of invariant sections, 
> rather than some qualitative measure?

I think there was some of both going on.  Some people were militantly
opposed to a byte limit, others were militantly opposed to any invariant
non-{copyright,license} text.

In the end it became clear to me that my byte limit proposal wasn't
making anyone happy.  It was enough of a compromise to let the GNU Emacs
Manual into main (its Invariant Sections totaled less than 32kB), but
that was too much compromise for some people, and not enough for others.
(What if RMS expands the GNU Manifesto to double its current size?)

> FWIW, I think your proposal is spot on. I agree that the GNU FDL is open to 
> abuse, even if I also think that no one in their right mind would attempt to 
> subvert it to distribute a novel.

In my time as a developer I've come to not expect reasonableness in
general when it comes to software licensing.  The DFSG is a defensive
document for similar reasons that "defensive programming" is considered
a good idea.  You may get inputs to the system that you wouldn't have
dreamed of.

> The question is, is the Manifesto an example of an exception granted by 3b of 
> your latest revised proposal?

There is no section 3b of my Final Draft.  Do you mean part of my impact

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).

If so, the answer is no.  The GNU Manifesto is not a license text.

Everything after "which" modifies the preceding "license texts".

> Is that essay's connection to emacs substantive enough to consider to
> accept it as free? I ask the question somewhat rhetorically-- it might
> be good to have some examples in 3b to use as a benchmark for any
> future documents that need to be tested. But I'd also like your
> opinion on the application of 3b for the Emacs manual, and whether you
> think the Debian community (as you've been leading this discussion)
> agrees with your interpretation of your own proposal.

It is not my intention to state that things which aren't modifiable and
are not relevant copyright notices or license texts can be regarded as

The impact statement was an attempt to give people fair notice of what I
think the proposal means.  If you find it confusing, refer to the text
of the proposal itself.  The impact statement is for reference purposes
only, and not offered for adoption as a document in its own right.

> But if a sizable contingent of free software users, especially Debian 
> partisans, think otherwise, then I'd like to know what they think *would* be 
> acceptable under 3b in your proposal, if anything. Otherwise you may as well 
> strike the exception, since it leaves that grey area intact without providing 
> any guide to resolving questions.

You are reading way, way too much into part 3b of my impact statement.

Please read it as follows.

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

Therefore, Invariant Sections containing anything other than copyright
notices and license texts do not meet the DFSG.  That includes the GNU

G. Branden Robinson                |      The greatest productive force is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      human selfishness.
branden@debian.org                 |      -- Robert Heinlein
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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