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Re: Documentation licenses (GFDL discussion on debian-legal)

On Tue, 2002-12-03 at 18:55, Martin Wheeler wrote:
> On Tue, 3 Dec 2002, Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña wrote:
> > It is my opinion that Debian should produce the Debian Free
> > _Documentation_ Guidelines which need not be related to the current DFSG
> > (but could use some tips from it, obviously).
> >
> > I am willing to produce such a draft but _only_ if people stop throwing
> > the DFSG against document writers. It does _not_ apply, we need to write a
> > new set of guidelines.
> Hear, hear -- please do.
> Such a guide is long overdue; its development can only help bring more writers
> (as opposed to programmers) into the fold.

I'm sure that allowing non-free programs would bring more programmers
into the fold, too. That's not a good reason to do anything.

> And to those who would say: "There's no difference between software and
> documentation" I would reply -- sorry, but you really know nothing about
> writing; specifically, _why_ writers write.

I'm one of the people who has consistently said there's no difference
between the two, and I'm going to stand by that. I'd rather not get
involved in a debate over what's creative work and what's not (I have
the same opinion there), but rather, focus on legal issues, since that's
what the DFSG was designed to deal with - legal aspects of licensing.

There is no way to distinguish between "data" and a "program". I've
argued this before, but for the most basic level - your CPU is a
"program" that reads machine code "data", and the GIMP is a "program"
that reads JPEG "data". CSS is a "program" applied to format HTML
"data". And so on. Please delineate "program" and "data" properly and
legally. Then we can actually start thinking about whether or not we
need such a license or license guidelines, otherwise we're debating an

I do believe that the freedoms people require and should be granted for,
say, a novel or manifesto, are different from those that people require
for technical documentation or software. On the other hand, Debian IMO
has no business distributing novels or manifestos (including the GNU
Manifesto) as part of an OS. If you want such unmodifiable parts, make
them removable from the document, so that Debian can distribute the
document sans those parts, which will make it free.

Certain licenses (the GFDL, notably) make it such that you can couple
the manifesto to the technical documentation, and never be able to
remove it. I can never make a copy or derivative work of the GNU Emacs
manual without including the GNU manifesto. In that way, my basic
freedoms for editing the technical aspects of the manual (which should
be distributed as part of an operating system) are limited.
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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