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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 12:29:52 -0400
>  || Peter S Galbraith <psg@debian.org> wrote: 
>  psg> My example is _not_ a GUI to text (e.g. like xpdf) but a GUI to
>  psg> software.  I'm more interested in hardcoding docs into software,
>  psg> producing a derived work composed of both works.
> I see. It wasn't entirely clear to me what you were referring to.
> The difference between hardcoding (compiling in) a document and
> displaying it from a separate file is purely technical. 
> So we are truly talking about whether a certain technique should be
> allowed under all circumstances.

It's not a technique.  It's whether I'm allowed to copy a portion of the
text (acknowledging the source) without the invariant sections.  The
technique doesn't matter.

> Especially the GPL is striking a new balance between the rights of the
> author and the freedoms of the users that puts both above the wishes
> of middlemen. 
> The GFDL deeks to do the same thing. Only this time you find yourself
> in the position of middleman and have to take care to not violate the
> rights of either party.


> I am sorry you are unhappy about having to use a different technical
> implementation than you would have liked to use. As much as I feel
> with you, I personally think the freedom this preserves is more
> important, though.

It doesn't perserve freedom at all.  It grants any redistributor the
right to add unremovable rants to the loss of the user's freedom.
>  >> That would make the relevant information immediately accessible
>  >> without requiring to hide or remove any part of the document.
>  psg> I don't want to ship the 5MB documentation with my 100KB GUI,
>  psg> just the few paragraphs that matter.
> That seems too genereralized to be useful. 
> It seems hard to imagine a situation where an obviously very long and
> detailed piece of documentation -- 5MB is unusually large for plain
> text -- would not be useful as a whole. Or rather that including only
> a few paragraphs would be a useful activity. Do you have a concrete
> example?

Sure.  Suppose I wanted to copy the definition of an Emacs function
from its texinfo file?

Or, a very concrete example:  I'm the author of 


It's an Emacs interface to the Debian bug tracking system.  It in,
there's a pull-down menu entry that causes the display of bug severity
definitions that users that read in order to file proper bug reports.
It's copied from http://www.debian.org/Bugs/Developer#severities
If that text were licensed with invariant sections, I'd have to include
them in this one-page help screen.

> And if it is just a few paragraphs that need to be hard-coded into
> your application, why not write them yourself?

"If it's just a few paragraphs that you need from this software library,
 why don't you just re-write them from scrach?"

Oh, I'm sorry.  I thought this content was under a free license.  You
now seem to be saying otherwise.  The strings you attach to your content
make it non-free.
> If it is more than just a few paragraphs, is this a special situation
> where harddisk space is so limited that the whole documentation could
> not be reasonable placed somewhere in the system?

There you go again.  It's not about disk space.  It's about freedom.

Do you really represent the FSF?  Do they know how you really feel about
these issues?  I'm very surprised that you are defending this position.

> If so: the GUI itself would surely be much larger than the few
> paragraphs you seek to include. If harddisk space is so limited, it
> might be more useful to use some standard text display facility and
> include more of the documentation instead.

I give up.

>  psg> It's _very_ weird to have to convince a GNU representative of
>  psg> these issues.
> As the GNU Free Documentation License is the license that was written
> with a lot of thought going into balancing the rights of the author of
> a documentation and the rights of the users -- including, but not
> limited to, programmers -- I wouldn't find it surprising that GNU
> people will seek to explain the background.
> Regards,
> Georg
> -- 
> Georg C. F. Greve                                       <greve@gnu.org>
> Free Software Foundation Europe	                 (http://fsfeurope.org)
> Brave GNU World	                           (http://brave-gnu-world.org)

Peter S. Galbraith, Debian Developer          <psg@debian.org>
GPG key 1024/D2A913A1 - 97CE 866F F579 96EE  6E68 8170 35FF 799E

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