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Re: Suggestion to maintainers of GFDL docs

Edmund GRIMLEY EVANS <edmundo@rano.org> wrote:
> A Microsoft Word document is probably "source code" rather than
> "object code"

Exactly.  Requiring a free editor or viewer or whatever to distribute
the preferred form for modification is a small part of what gets the
GFDL into trouble.  For example, I have a small C++ project that I
GPL'd that, until recently, could not be compiled by a free compiler.
That makes distributing binaries problematic, but there is no problem
with distributing the source.

So I would rephrase the original clarification:

    This section is for clarification only.  It is intended to expand
    on the wishes of the author, but should not be interpreted to
    change the license or copyright status of the work.  For the
    author, the "Source Code", or "preferred form for modification",
    is the LaTeX2e source for this document. All other formats -- even
    open, transparent formats such as plain text or HTML -- are not
    preferred for the author to make changes.  This statement of what
    the "Source Code" is only binds to the original author.  Other
    people may prefer to modify the document in other forms, such as
    plain text, HTML, or even Postscript, a proprietary word
    processor, or printed copies.  For those versions, the person
    doing the modifications is the best judge of what format they
    prefer to use for modifications.

    Note that some formats may make it difficult or impossible to
    distribute "Object Code" because it is a requirement of the GNU
    GPL that everything needed to create the "Object Code" from the
    "Source Code" can be distributed under the same terms as the GNU
    GPL.  For example, you may not distribute printed copies of a
    document modified and output by Adobe Acrobat, because Adobe
    Acrobat may not be distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL.
    However, printed copies modified by Adobe Acrobat but printed out
    with GNU Ghostscript may be distributed, since GNU Ghostscript is
    distributed under the GNU GPL.  Because of these complications, we
    recommend only modifying and printing out copies with programs
    that may be distributed under the same terms as the GPL.

More wordy than I like, but it does cover all of the cases I can think
of.  It also doesn't answer the question of whether you can distribute
printed copies derived from the LaTeX2e source, since the LaTeX2e
isn't GPL compatible (That is another flamewar).  You might be able to
hide under the operating system exception.

Walter Landry

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