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Re: query from Georg Greve of GNU about Debian's opinion of the FDL

 || On Sun, 13 Apr 2003 12:05:43 -0500
 || Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> wrote: 

 >> Could you please tell me where that decision has been made
 >> official?

 br> When the FSF released the GNU FDL 1.2, we analyzed it on the
 br> debian-legal mailing list.  At that time, no one was willing to
 br> defend it as a DFSG-free license if cover texts or invariant
 br> sections were used.

Yes, this seems to be the discussion I have read before.

 >> Because the last time I asked Debian people about it, they told me
 >> this was a minority opinion and not official.

 br> When did you ask?  Who did you ask?

It must have been a few weeks ago. MJ Ray told me it was not the
official position.

 >> First of all: documents and software are entirely different issues
 >> and should be treated differently.

 br> The Debian Project does not, in general, appear to agree.  See:
 br>   http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/debian-legal-200212/msg00027.html
 br> ...and followups.

That may be so. I will accept your statement at face value; although
my personal experience tells me that not always will the archives of a
public discussion display true majorities.

Not always is the loudest voice truly the vote of the majority.

Some people tend to not write because they have the feeling that their
participation cannot do good; or because they feel others have stated
things so well that they probably couldn't do it any better and if
those postings didn't manage to expain certain things, they probably
also could not.

As to the question whether or not software and documentation should be
treated alike, I'd like to say that I am very much in favor of a more
differentiated approach.

Mixing things that are in truth very different is one of the worst
effects of the "intellectual property" terminology and has done a lot
of harm. Remember that a lot of the less intelligent legal rulings
regarding software have their roots in this unwarranted assumption.

Now asking to treat documentation/books like software looks like
inverse repetition of that mistake.

 >> In reality, existance of invariant sections and the possibility to
 >> [...]
 >> the license.

 br> Your analysis ignores the fact that the GNU FDL does not permit
 br> Invariant Sections to be omitted entirely from the work when it
 br> is redistributed.  If the GNU FDL did that, it would take a giant
 br> step towards DFSG-freeness.

This is not entirely clear. There seem to be two possible
interpretations of what you wrote.

A. Do you mean that it is non-free because in your reading of it, it
doesn't allow authors to define no invariant sections?

B. Or do you mean it doesn't allow cutting out sections that the
author previously defined as important and invariant?

Interpretation B -- which you probably meant -- is already included in
the analysis, as cutting out parts is also modification.


Georg C. F. Greve                                       <greve@gnu.org>
Free Software Foundation Europe	                 (http://fsfeurope.org)
Brave GNU World	                           (http://brave-gnu-world.org)

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