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

On Mon, 2003-04-14 at 10:00, Georg C. F. Greve wrote:
>  || On Mon, 14 Apr 2003 10:12:53 -0400
>  || Peter S Galbraith <psg@debian.org> wrote: 
>  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.

No, it isn't.

Sometimes we want to embed a fully abstracted document viewer into our
code for the purpose of browsing documents, and sometimes we just want
to display a tooltip, or a blurb in a label, or something.  The question
relates to the latter practice, not the former.

I would consider it to be very non-free to require (legally, I mean)
that all displays of text on a GUI be done through a formal renderer
that ensures the integrity of the text viewed, just as I would consider
it very non-free to require that a text-mode program use gets() and not
printf() because printf() can change the content before printing it.

Which brings us back to the question: must a tooltip quoting a GFDL
document include the invariant sections, according to the license?

> 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.

Symbolics didn't think it was "useful" or "necessary" to let RMS fix
that printer driver way back when, either.

The moment you write technical details into licenses is the moment you
stray into non-free waters.

> The decision of what a user wants to read should be made by the user,
> not by the author of his or her software.

With free software and free documentation, there's no need to limit
either's choice.  If the user doesn't like the author's choice of words
or quoting habits, the user is free to change them.
Jeff Licquia <licquia@debian.org>

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