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Re: license requirements for a book to be in free section

Marcus wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 01, 2002 at 03:22:18PM +0100, Sunnanvind Fenderson wrote:
> > Though the four freedoms of the FSF is a political statement. "These
> > are rights everyone should have when it comes to functional software"
> > - they're easily understandable and they're useful for advocacy and
> > explaining free software.
> Well, Debian is a political mvovement, and I don't think there is much
> disagreement about those particular freedoms.

Sure, but my point was that the four freedoms are fine for the
advocacy/explaining part but (possibly, I'm not certain) too vague to
be useful as the *only* guidelines for debian-legal. I.e, freedom to
redistribute copies. A license that would only allow distribution of
software non-commercially would be unusable for Debian, but using only
the four freedoms, there's seemingly nothing wrong with such a

Note that RMS in his explanation of the four freedoms at
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html does state that commercial
redistribution has to be allowed. This helps make my point (err, I
think) that the four freedoms, as written, are not complete legal
guidelines that cover every case. They're still great and I agree with
you, software that doesn't have the four freedoms are not free
software. Still, the DFSG are a lot more detailed (or, tries to be).

Also note that RMS has said (if I recall correctly) that he does not
think that freedom 3 is necessary for non-functional works. (E.g. the
GNU manifesto.)

> Actually, I don't believe it (although I am not sure, as I have no special
> insight into such matters).  The guidelines are pretty clear, basically, and
> RMS had an amazing consistent stance upon these issues since a couple of
> years.  In corner cases, the matter is discussed and it seems to me RMS makes
> a final decision. 

Huh? Don't they have like, an elected board or some kind of democracy?

> I think the four freedoms come closest to a definition of free software as
> you can get. 

Agreed. What I'm unsure of is whether that definition is detailed
enough to work consistently as guidelines for debian-legal.

> Issues like patents and other funky stuff are in the process
> of being worked out (some of this work will go into the GPLv3, IIRC).

So I hear. Here's to hoping that they deal with trademarks too -
there's been some nasty stuff like the d20 STL coming up lately.

> You can say what you want about the FSF and RMS, <snip stuff I knew>

Oh, I'm not interested in saying anything negative about them, I hope
to make that clear. I am a very big fan. I agree with most everything
RMS has written and I constantly refer people to Moglen's "Anarchism
Triumphant" (it's one of my favourite essays). I certainly agree with
the statement that all published software should be free.


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