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

On Mon, 14 Apr 2003, Georg C. F. Greve wrote:

> 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. 

Sure, but it's clearly NOT ok to use some derived works of some 
GFDL-licensed documents as a part of that program.  The problem has 
nothing to do with document viewers.  It's that the distinction between 
documentation and software is fuzzy at best.

In order for a work to be free, I must be able to include parts of it
(meaning "compile into") free software.  

> 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.

He's not talking about a specialized help gui.  He's talking about a 
program which displays compiled-in text as part of it's help framework.

To be more specific, it currently seems illegal for me to distribute
the hypothetical software femto-emacs which runs on severely limited 
hardware and includes some snippets from the emacs manual.  

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

That's way too simplistic.  Like software, decisions are made by the
author, the derived-work authors, and the distributors.  The user gets to
pick from available choices (unless she is also a derived-work author).

Free software very clearly recognizes this.  ONLY by giving derived-work 
authors and distributors free reign over the functionality/content of the 
work will users actually get any choice in what to run/read.

I don't see that free documentation, free media, or free art is any 
different.  Reserving the right to make arbitrary modifications makes it 
Mark Rafn    dagon@dagon.net    <http://www.dagon.net/>  

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