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Re: FSF has published GNU FDL version 1.2

On Wed, Nov 27, 2002 at 12:27:16PM -0800, Walter Landry wrote:
> 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.

Hmm, yup.  This could be rectified if the license would render itself
null if misapplied, or if preservation of the History section only
applied to the content you describe.

Unfortunately, it doesn't, and I agree that the History section could be
abused in a way that GPL 2a) cannot be.

> > 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
> preserved.

Another good point.  :(

Besides which, it seems a bit bizarre to require the dedication to be
preserved, since the content of the work may be changed by others to
such an extent that the original author would be uncomfortable with the
dedication's continued presence.  So that seems like a requirement that
could actually be twisted *against* the author.

> 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.  

You're saying that the GNU FDL's definition of "Transparent" precludes
these formats, right?

> 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.

Hmm.  Yes, I didn't think of this because I was thinking about the DMCA,
which is probably what the author(s) of the license had in mind as well.

Unfortunately, as you point out, the terms of the license may be too
broad for that goal.

I'm also curious about the meaning of this:

  You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially
  or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright notices, and
  the license notice saying this License applies to the Document are reproduced
  in all copies, and that you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of
  this License.

Does this mean I cannot add additional *permissions* that are
conditional in form?  The GNU GPL permits this; it only forbids imposing
further *restrictions* on users.

What about dual-licensing with a more permissive license?  What is the
difference between dual-licensing and using a license that grants a
superset of the permissions of the GNU FDL?  How, in fact, can the FSF
stop copyright holders from licensing their works under whatever terms
they please?  In the case of any conflict, the only result consistent
with the law is that the GNU FDL would be rendered inapplicable to the
given work.

G. Branden Robinson                |      The National Security Agency is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      working on the Fourth Amendment
branden@debian.org                 |      thing.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |      -- Phil Lago, Deputy XD, CIA

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