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Re: distributable but non-free documents

On Fri, Mar 01, 2002 at 09:59:30PM +0000, Adam Olsen wrote:
> On the subject of distributable but non-free documents like RFCs, I
> think there's a big one that needs the be pointed out: the GPL.

Folks are well aware of this on debian-legal.  You might want to check
the archives of that list for the past 2 months or so.

There seem to be at least two schools of thought on why the text of the
GPL is okay for inclusion in main:

1) It's a license text, and we don't reject a package for being non-DFSG
free as long as *only* its license text is non-DFSG-free.  The license
text is only required due to copyright laws that presume that the
exercise of the freedoms in the DFSG is not legitimate by default.  If
the copyright laws were such that we could take the freedoms in the DFSG
for granted, the license would not be needed.  You can also think of
licenses as "metadata" that doesn't form part of the work itself.

2) The presence of the GPL license text in Debian packages was
understood, known about, and quite commonplace (inescapably obvious, in
other words), when the DFSG was adopted, therefore the GPL text must be
acceptable under the DFSG.

However, you'd be right in that if one were to reason ex nihilo about
the DFSG, divorcing it from its context as an applied document, that it
would be prohibited.

I personally lean more towards theory 1) above, if it matters to you.

Please direct followups to debian-legal.

G. Branden Robinson                |      We either learn from history or,
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      uh, well, something bad will
branden@debian.org                 |      happen.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |      -- Bob Church

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