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Re: FSF has published GNU FDL version 1.2

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> wrote:
> Further analysis of the GNU FDL will likely center on section 4
> ("MODIFICATIONS"), and whether and how each of the many requirements
> therein mesh with DFSG 3 ("Derived Works").  Specifically, 4I seems
> similar in spirit to a requirement under the GNU GPL, which will already
> accept as a DFSG-free license.

It is only ok if the History section only has "the title, year, new
authors, and publisher of the Modified Version".  In reality, it may
not be so limited.

> I am less certain about 4K.

I'm not so crazy about requiring a dedication to be preserved.  It can
be easily abused.  It can be requested, and put near the copyright
notice so that most people just won't mess with it.  But I'm not sure
that it is ok to require the 10,000 word "Ode to my Goldfish" be

> The Free Software Foundation has heard us and, apparently, taken our
> perspective into account as much as they plan to.  It is now time for us
> to decide if and how we will apply the DFSG to the GNU FDL in a manner
> consistent with our Social Contract.  Our decisions on these matters
> will affect our ability to continue to distribute certain documents as
> part of the Debian system.

Even without Cover Texts or Invariant Sections, you still can't
distribute something in LyX's format without first exporting it as
TeX, or as OpenOffice XML without exporting as text.  

But all of these things can be avoided by

1) No Cover Texts
2) No Invariant Sections
3) Being careful with the History Section
4) No Acknowledgement or Dedication Section
5) Not publishing originally in one of the "Opaque" formats.

What can't be avoided is the clause in Section 2

  You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the
  reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute.

I could easily imagine a situation where an organization wants to make
it difficult to print things out, so that people don't waste paper.
Libraries, in particular, may want to discourage people from printing
out the GNU Emacs manual.  The GFDL doesn't allow this, which counts
as a use restriction.  The license is non-free.

Walter Landry

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