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Endorsements (was: GNU FDL 1.2 draft comment summary posted, and RFD)

On Wed, Jun 12, 2002 at 06:25:29PM -0500, Joe Wreschnig wrote:
> Since the matter in question boils down to attribution, what if there
> were sections that were marked such that if you make any changes, you
> cannot use any other author's names without their permission, e.g. the
> FSF could mark the GNU Manifesto as such, and if someone changed that
> section, they would have to remove the FSF's name from it, or get their
> permission? This solves my problems, and is significantly more free than
> the FDL or the removal option.

Here are my current thoughts on Endorsements:

1) Endorsements would go along with the copyright notice itself, not the
license text.  This is so that they are somewhat prominent.

2) Distributors are NOT compelled to *retain* endorsements in the copies
of the document they distribute.  If they want to trim the endorsement
list, even to zero, for purposes of space, personal feud, or whatever,
they may.

3) Endorsements *must* be removed when a document is modified in any
way.  Endorsers may wish to communicate to the world (via a Web Page),
blanket permission to retain their endorsement under certain
circumstances (e.g. "any typographical corrections" or "as long as the
chapter entitled Funding Free Software is retained in its original
form").  However, such communications are outside the scope of the DFCL.
They are arrangements between the distributor and private entities.
I.e., nothing in the DFCL will give you permission to retain an
endorsement when you modify the document.  Only your own understanding
with the endorser can do that.

4) Anyone, not just the copyright holder of the document in question,
can sign on as an endorser to a version of any DFCL-licensed document.
Whether their endorsement is listed is up to the distributor (see 2

5) There will be text, in the form of a brief notice, following the
copyright notice, which mentions endorsements.  Removing that text
will not be permitted, unfortunately (yes, this is invariant text).  The
reason for this is so that everyone understands whether or not the
author(s) and other parties actually approve of the edition of the
document being distributed.


	Copyright (C) 2002 Free Software Foundation.

	This edition of $DOCUMENT is distributed under the Debian Free
	Content License and is endorsed by the following parties.  The
	absence of an endorsement by any party, including the copyright
	holder, may indicate that this edition does not meet with that
	party's approval, and is not representative of that party.

And then you either would or would not have the Free Software Foundation

I *think* this would address the kind of problem RMS was having with
people being able to remove certain sections from, e.g., the GNU Emacs
Manual, though of course I have no idea if he would consider this
solution "enough".

Needless to say, the wording of that boilerplate could certainly use
some tweaking.  I'd like to make it as short as possible (because it's
invariant text, and I hate that stuff, and it can compel people to fill
a page with 6-point type) while still making it clear that "If you don't
see the author's name below, he may completely hate and totally disagree
with this edition of the document".

We *could* require that an edition with no endorsements have an
alternative notice that says so with scary language, but that introduces
complexity and I'd rather not go that road.  I like the idea of people
being able to produce alternative editions of a DFCL-licensed document
solely through deletion.  (E.g., delete chapter 2, delete the
endorsements, and go to press.[1])

[1] Of course, this is exactly what RMS is afraid of with respect to the
GNU Emacs Manual, I think.  It may be that RMS is impossible to please
in this department, and that he can't bring himself to license the GNU
Emacs Manual in a DFSG-free way, period.  I say this only because I need
to make it clear that I am not on a mission to keep the GNU Emacs Manual
in main.  I spent a lot of effort on that several months ago and it did
not come to fruition.  Yes, it may be in woody right now, but if it
still has those invariant sections in it, then it is, in my opinion, in
main illegitimately.  By the way, this is a footnote for a reason.  If
you want to discuss it, please start a new thread.

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       kernel panic -- causal failure
branden@debian.org                 |       universe will now reboot
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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