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

 || On Wed, 16 Apr 2003 11:34:17 +0100
 || Edmund GRIMLEY EVANS <edmundo@rano.org> wrote: 

 >> Although I have said it before, I'll say it again: I don't
 >> consider the GFDL to be perfect, but from the free documentation
 >> licenses I have seen so far, it seems to be the most solid one for
 >> the reasons I've described.

 ege> What do you mean by a "free documentation licence"?

A documentation license that will provide a good balance between the
freedoms of the individual and the freedoms and needs of society in a
way that it will maximize freedom for society while keeping that
freedom legally defendable.

 ege> Personally, I will stick to using the GPL, even for non-software.

That is putting freedom at risk, however -- possibly even more than
with a free documentation license that does not permit invariant
sections -- as the license was clearly written for software, not

So although you probably won't run into immediate problems with it, it
does make the legal situation somewhat fuzzy for such documentation.

 >> Of course technical manuals require change. So it may be possible
 >> that authors use invariant sections in an unwise way, covering
 >> parts that need to be changed to keep the manual useful. In that
 >> case such manuals should maybe be put into contrib.

 ege> So you agree that some documents licensed under the GFDL are not
 ege> free.

I thought contrib was for things under free licenses that are somehow
suffering from limitations. But I may be wrong.

Sometimes authors consider more things invariant than would be
technically useful. Nobody can take that right away from an author
under Droit d'Auteur, which we have to take into account for global

But of course it limits the usefulness of the documentation for the
Debian project and its users.

So I guess my suggestion would be the following policy:

 1)  The GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) is a free documentation
     license; recommended for use in Debian without invariant

 2a) Documents without invariant sections go into main.

 2b) Documents with invariant sections are to be reviewed by the
     Debian Documentation Project whether the invariant section makes
     the document technically unmaintainable.

     [An example for non-maintainable technical parts would be if the
      documentation of a web browser has the description of the key
      bindings in an invariant section.]

     If the invariant sections still allow maintaining the document
     technically, it can go into main.

     If the invariant sections do not allow technical maintenance, it
     goes into contrib as it might still be somewhat useful.

That said, I think I've done what I could to explain the situation to
the best of my knowledge and provide a viable solution. So I would
like to put this to rest for now and suggest to maybe reexamine the
situation in half a year, or so.


Georg C. F. Greve                                       <greve@gnu.org>
Free Software Foundation Europe	                 (http://fsfeurope.org)
Brave GNU World	                           (http://brave-gnu-world.org)

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