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

Georg C. F. Greve <greve@gnu.org> wrote:

>  || On Mon, 14 Apr 2003 10:12:53 -0400
>  || Peter S Galbraith <psg@debian.org> wrote: 
>  >> Interpretation B -- which you probably meant -- is already
>  >> included in the analysis, as cutting out parts is also
>  >> modification.
>  psg> If I write a GUI front-end for some software which has
>  psg> documentation under this license, can I take a few paragraphs of
>  psg> the documentation to use under my "help" menu without including
>  psg> invariant sections?
> This is mixing two independent questions -- that of writing a GUI to
> display text (software, potentially under GPL) and that of which text
> (documentation, potentially under GFDL) you display in which way.

Don't put into my mouth.  My example is _not_ a GUI to text (e.g. like
xpdf) but a GUI to software.   I'm more interested in hardcoding docs
into software, producing a derived work composed of both works.

> If we ignore potential DMCA/EUCD/SW-patent issues, which are unrelated
> to the issue at hand, it is always okay to write a GUI that can
> display documents regardless of their license. 

I'm not interested in displaying text available separately on the
system, but rather in having my GUI display hardcoded relevant bits of
documentation (as a quick reference for example, or as quick start
> If this GUI would deliberately detect GFDL'ed documents and hide
> information from the user, it might be made to violate the license of
> the documentation -- I'd have to think about this some more to come to
> a final conclusion -- but generally, this seems an issue of the user
> of the software, not the author.

This is not a xpdf-like documentation browser, so I'll refrain from
replying to this.

> In the special case that you seem to be referring to, which is as
> author of a specialized help GUI, you could of course jump to the
> relevant paragraphs/parts of the documentation directly.
> That would make the relevant information immediately accessible
> without requiring to hide or remove any part of the document. 

I don't want to ship the 5MB documentation with my 100KB GUI, just the
few paragraphs that matter.

> Hiding or even removing parts of the documentation doesn't seem
> necessary for that and in general does not seem like a useful job for
> the author of a GUI.
> The decision of what a user wants to read should be made by the user,
> not by the author of his or her software.

The decision of what documentation in embed in a GUI should be made by
the GUI author, not by the author of the document that information is
copied from.  This is where we differ.

I think you have addressed and confirmed my concern very well:

- Documents under the FDL with invariant sections cannot be merged
  into the software they are supposed to document.  The FDL prohibits
  it.  The only way I could it would be to include the text and I don't
  want, but I can't anyway because the software license (GPL in this
  example) prohibits me from adding these restrictions on derived works.

That is reason enough for me to avoid this license.  I also think the
restrictions are onerous enough to make it non-free, and not simply free
but GPL-incompatible.

It's _very_ weird to have to convince a GNU representative of these


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