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Re: Problems in GNU FDL 1.2 Draft

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho <gaia@iki.fi> wrote:
> On 20020213T133738-0800, Walter Landry wrote:
> > In fact, it seems like the GPL is better worded
> > for this sort of thing.
> I would advice against anyone using the GPL for documentation.
> For example, if I print and photocopy a GPL'd document and
> give the copies to my students, I must also give them
> machine-readable source.  This is a major nuisance.

If you *ever* distribute more than 100 copies in total, you will have
to give all of them a copy of the Transparent version anyway.  In any
case, making machine-readable versions available to your students is
probably not a bad idea in general.  I, personally, prefer to have
everything in electronic form because it is much lighter than dead
tree format.

In any case, it is sufficient to bring one floppy or CD to class with
the machine-readable source.  If you're going to be distributing a lot
of different documents, I would put them all on it.  If your students
are at all like my students, they won't want it, and you have
fulfilled your obligation.  If a bunch of them do want it, then maybe
it is not such a good idea to just be giving them paper docs?

However, I do appreciate the root of your comment, which is that it
makes informal, paper-based sharing more of a hassle.  It will always
be a hassle, because these hassles preserve the freeness of the
document.  This is true of the GPL and the GFDL.

> Also, it is not at all clear what is "object code" or
> "executable code" when talking about documents.

I agree, which is why I mentioned it at the end of my email.  That is
something that the FSF can fix.  I don't think that this is a big

> > As a specific example of where the GPL is better worded, instead of
> > arbitrarily listing certain formats as Transparent and others as
> > Opaque, it simply refers to "the preferred form for modification."
> It seems you have not read the FDL properly.  It gives a general
> definition and lists *examples*.  I think this is better, as
> it clarifies the definition.

The definition mentions formats that can be "viewed and edited
directly and straightforwardly with generic text editors".  As I hope
I made clear, this is a bad way to define things.  Open Office is not,
by any stretch of the imagination, a "generic text editor", so it
seems like I can't GFDL anything I create with it.  The examples are
also bad.

> > As another example, the GFDL requires me to include a copy of the
> > license in the documentation.  The GPL only requires a copy of the
> > license along with the software.
> If you are using the GPL to license documentation, then a reasonable
> interpretation is that the documentation is "the software".  Therefore,
> you are obligated to give a copy of the GPL along with your document.

I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't clear here.  I wasn't claiming that, with
the GPL, I don't have to give people the GPL.  I was saying that I
don't have to put the GPL *in* the document.  Rather, I can distribute
it *with* the document.  With some image formats, I don't think you
can even put comments *in* the same file.

> > I would be quite annoyed if my
> > MagicPoint presentation (which I can edit with generic text editors)
> > had to have a copy of the license inside it.
> Why?  You don't have to show the license to the audience.

If I have 10 different presentations, I have to include a copy in each
presentation.  This is really unnecessary and bloated.

> > It also adds a number of clauses about copying in quantity,
> > Endorsements, Title Page, and Cover Texts that unnecessarily confuse
> > anyone who wants to apply the license to their work.
> They are actually quite necessary, and there actually isn't enough of
> them.  (I have a concrete example where I need a cover text that
> is treated like the "endorsements" section.)

Please elaborate.  I still don't see the benefit, since these things
can be changed quite a bit.

Walter Landry

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