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

On Mon, Apr 14, 2003 at 11:50:59AM +0200, Georg C. F. Greve wrote:

>  >> 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.

In the case of Debian, license approval is not democratic.  It is the
vaguely democratic consensus of the debian-legal mailing list (as seen in
the archives), together with the decisions of the ftp masters, that
determines whether a license is accepted as free or 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.

I disagree wholeheartedly.  The perceived goal of the GPL is to establish
a creative commons for the mutual benefit of all in the community.  This
is not a goal that's inherently bound to the nature of software; one can
derive many of the same benefits from a creative commons built around
prose.  However, the FDL (when invariant sections are invoked) has
something quite different from a commons as its aim.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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