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Source, Opaqueness, Transparency

g_dlegal@zewt.org (Glenn Maynard) wrote:
> And we're back at the fact that "source", like "software", is hard
> to define, and sometimes it's even hard to tell intuitively.  (With
> respect to exported HTML I suppose the original Word document is the
> source; but it hardly seems correct to call it that.)
X-Mailer: mh-e 6.0; nmh 1.0.4+dev; Emacs 21.4

... And that is why the wording of the FDL (at least first version)
gave a set of suggestive examples, and indicated that whether a
particular form should be considered "opaque" or "transparent"
couldn't be made into a direct formula.

Postscript and HTML are the most useful pathological cases:

-> Postscript is almost always an "opaque" form generated from some
   more "transparent" form.  

   But not always, because some people (look at
   <http://www.cappella.demon.co.uk/tinyfiles/tinydict.html>) use it
   as the native form for writing documents.  I'd be unsurprised if
   Don Lancaster wrote his own books in Postscript too.

-> HTML is more ambiguous.  I would think it would be generally
   considered "more transparent" than Postscript, as many more people
   know how to write up HTML tagging by hand, and there are a whopping
   lot of tools out there for interactively editing HTML documents.

   But if I wrote my docs in DocBook/SGML, and used Jade/DSSSL to
   transform that to HTML, then DocBook/SGML is the "transparent" form
   to be preferred for editing.

Those are both good examples to demonstrate that there's no pat legal
formula to use.

It's somewhat like pornography or obscenity; these things are not easy
to forcibly nail down in laws that can be put on the books, but "I'll
surely recognize it when I see it."

The notion of _wanting_ this to be set down in the FDL as
hard-and-fast legal language strikes me as being a mistake, because of
the inherent ambiguity.
(reverse (concatenate 'string "gro.gultn@" "enworbbc"))
http://www3.sympatico.ca/cbbrowne/sgml.html Rules of the Evil Overlord
#123. "If I decide to hold a contest of skill open to the general
public, contestants will be required to remove their hooded cloaks and
shave their beards before entering."  <http://www.eviloverlord.com/>

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