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 firstname.lastname@example.org <http://www.dagon.net/>