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Re: Free documentation using non-free preprocessor

On Thu, 2002-10-10 at 07:47, Florian Weimer wrote:
> What's the approach to documentation whose source code (preferred form
> of modification) is only available in a format for which no free
> compilers exist?
> For example, the Ada Reference Manual is written in a Scribe-like
> language.  ("Scribe" refers to the software by Brian Reid, not the
> Debian package of that name, which implements an incompatible
> formatting language.)  There are only proprietary Scribe compilers.
> However, the documentation is free, and its source code is available.
> Can we can include open formats (such as HTML and Texinfo source)
> generated from Scribe fiels in the main archive, at least?  Even if
> it's not the "real" source code?

For the situation as you describe it here, yes.  As long as there are no
DFSG-nonfree restrictions on modification or distribution of the
HTML/texinfo files, and as long as the license terms are consistent, I
don't see any problem.  I don't necessarily see any problems with
shipping the Scribe source as well, as long as it's clear that editing
the Scribe files will be essentially useless without non-free tools, and
as long as we don't Build-Depend on non-free tools.

I don't know what the license is for the documentation, however, so
there are still potential pitfalls.  For example, if the license is the
GPL, then the GPL defines source as "the preferred form for modifying
the work"; this may affect how the documentation may be distributed and
may require you to fork the documentation.  Indeed, you may have to fork
it anyway, since any Debian-specific changes to the documentation will
have to be made to the HTML/texinfo files and not the Scribe files in
order to be useful to Debian.

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