On Sun, Apr 20, 2003 at 05:35:14AM +0300, Richard Braakman wrote: > -- would you prefer that they hadn't seconded the > proposal either? We could have had a nicely silent majority. I don't really see much value in "me too" posts. We build consensus by responding to criticism, and there hasn't been *any* internal criticism of this stand since last November, when Branden found the FSF's responses to the issues he and others had brought to the FSF's attention. > > Debian's stance on the GNU Free Documentation License > > ...OR NOT (completely unofficial, draft, blahblah) > (Section I, 'Preserve the section entitled "History"', is also a candidate > for this list.) Is it? I couldn't see how it was much different to the GPL's "You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files". I suppose having a History section like: 2003-05-01 Title: _GNU Manifesto_ Debian (Extracted the GNU Manifesto from the GDB docs) 2003-04-28 Title: _GDB Documentation_ FSF 2003-04-12 Title: _GDB Documentation_ Debian 2003-04-11 Title: _GDB Documentation_ FSF 2003-04-01 Title: _GDB Documentation_ Debian 2003-03-20 Title: _GDB Documentation_ FSF could get tiresome. Does that make it non-free, though? I can't see any reason why it should. There's been some question whether the front-cover texts are DFSG free. Considering we accept the obnoxious advertising clause, I can't see any reason for them not to be. > I also have a list of other problems with the GFDL. They should > probably all be listed together, though we may want to skip some > as being too nitpicky. I'd rather list them all in a comprehensive FAQ, and keep the statement short and to the point -- if we're going to make statements on non-free licenses that're commonly called and thought of as free, fair enough; making statements about every seriously flawed license out there would seem like a lot of effort. I'm happy to be shouted down, though. >  I remember two in the GDB manual and one in the Emacs manual. > (Un)fortunately these mistakes have been corrected and I no longer have > the old versions around. Does anyone have references? http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2001/debian-legal-200112/msg00225.html In particular: for emacs21, ``with the Invariant Sections being "The GNU Manifesto", "Distribution" and "GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE"'', and for gdb ``with the Invariant Sections being "A Sample GDB Session" and "Free Software"'' and ``with the Invariant Sections being "Stabs Types" and "Stabs Sections"'' A stronger argument can be made that not only is it easy to misapply, but that it's harmful even when correctly applied: the wikipedia example of the addition of invariant backlinks making the modifications unusable for the original author; and the hypothetical example of random people who don't have RMS's credibility attaching their own manifestos to free software documentation as some weird unerasable graffiti are both convincing to me. Are they convincing to anyone else? If so, would someone else who's convinced like to pen a FAQ paragraph about it? Are there any other examples? Updated statement draft, and a draft FAQ attached, that should cover all your comments that I didn't address in this mail. Cheers, aj -- Anthony Towns <firstname.lastname@example.org> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/> I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred. ``Dear Anthony Towns: [...] Congratulations -- you are now certified as a Red Hat Certified Engineer!''
Debian's stance on the GNU Free Documentation License (2) ...OR NOT (completely unofficial, draft, blahblah) 24th April, 2003 In November 2002, version 1.2 of the GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL) was released by the Free Software Foundation after a long period of consultation. Unfortunately, some concerns raised by members of the Debian Project were not addressed, and as such the GNU FDL can apply to works that do not pass the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG), and may thus only be included in the non-free component of the Debian archive, not the Debian distribution itself. This document attempts to explain the reasoning behind this conclusion, and offers some suggestions on how authors of free documentation may avoid these problems. The Problem ~~~~~~~~~~~ The GNU FDL includes a number of conditions, which apply to all modified versions, that disallow modifications. In particular, these are: * K. For any section Entitled "Acknowledgements" or "Dedications", Preserve the Title of the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein. * L. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles. However, modifiability is a fundamental requirement of the Debian Free Software Guidelines, which state: 3. Derived Works The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software. As such, we cannot accept works that include "Invariant Sections" and similar unmodifiable components into our distribution, which unfortunately includes a number of current manuals for GNU software. The Solution ~~~~~~~~~~~~ There are a number of things that can be done to avoid this problem. 1) Avoid using the various options the GNU FDL allows. If you do not make use of Invariant Sections, or include an Acknowledgements or Dedication section, there are no problems with your GNU FDL licensed document passing the DFSG. However, if someone modifies your document, and adds an Invariant Section, the new document will become "tainted" and can no longer be made to pass the DFSG. 2) Use an alternative copyleft license for your document. The GNU General Public License is a good license for documentation as well as software. It requires anyone who would want to do a print run of your documentation to either include a CD of the text with the book so anyone can modify it, or to include an offer to send copies to anyone who asks at cost; and also requires the modifiable copy to be in whichever transparent form was used to create the book originally. 3) Use a non-copyleft free license for your document. Example licenses include the FreeBSD Documentation License, and common software licenses such as the X11 license, or the updated BSD license. 4) Convince the FSF to change the GNU FDL to allow the removal of unmodifiable sections. While this does not prevent documents covered by the GNU FDL being non-free by Debian's definition of the term, it allows us to remove the non-free components (that by definition are irrelevant to the document), leaving simply the DFSG-free manual itself. More Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl-1.2-comments.txt http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/debian-legal-200211/msg00285.html http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/debian-legal-200211/msg00287.html http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html
*DRAFT* Debian and GNU Free Documentation License FAQ (1) *DRAFT* What does it mean that this document is a draft? It means it's not in its final form, that any or all of it may well be incomplete, unbalanced, or inserted only as Devil's Advocacy (which is to say wrong). Don't rely on it even as an indicator to what Debian thinks, what its authors think, or what you should think. It's the Debian Free _Software_ Guidelines, Stupid -- Why Apply Them to Documentation? This is a very fundamental question. Debian's decision is based on some fundamental premises: we are, at our heart, an operating system distribution, so we're interested in making a good operating system that you can do a lot with far more than distributing every possible essay someone may wish to read, or painting they might find artistic. However, a good operating system must at least include documentation of itself, and, at least within Debian, it's generally felt that a good piece of code should be deserving of as much artistic protection as a good piece of prose. As such, we have decided to draw the same line between "free" and "non-free" for documentation as we have drawn for programs: that which passes the DFSG can enter main and be part of the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution, that which doesn't, but is still redistributable, can enter non-free and thus still be available to Debian users who might want it. What About Unmodifiable Software Licenses Like the GNU GPL? Many software licenses unfortunately disallow the creation ofderivative works. The FSF give everyone permission to distribute verbatim copies of the GPL, eg, but do not give you permission to take the text of the GPL and change section (2(c)) to something you prefer, and license your own works under this new GPL-based license. This, clearly, does not pass the DFSG. Debian does not generally apply the DFSG to the text of licenses themselves, but rather to the software (programs, documentation, artwork) they cover. In the past, Debian has similarly overlooked applying the DFSG to documentation, but with the increasing focus on providing good free documentation, this no longer seems appropriate. Beyond allowing invariant sections, why does the GNU FDL suck? It's easy to misapply the GNU FDL. The GNU FDL says that only "Secondary Sections" (a term it defines) may be marked Invariant, but does not say what should happen if a section that is not Secondary is listed as an Invariant Section. The FSF itself has made this mistake several times, so we know it's an easy mistake to make. Definition of "Transparent copy" is limiting The GNU FDL defines the words "Transparent" and "Opaque" to distinguish between source-like and object-like documents (e.g. comparing LaTeX to PDF). Unfortunately, this definition focuses on implementation rather than intent. It requires that every component of a document is either text, or an image, or a drawing. This leaves out for example sound files, which can never be distributed as part of a document under the GNU FDL. ([Maybe insert rant about PostScript not being Opaque by definition. In fact, PostScript is the perfect example for documentation == software.]) GNU FDL creates a wall between documentation and code The GFDL is incompatible with the GPL, and many of its requirements don't translate well to functional software. This makes it difficult to embed such documents into a program, for example in order to present on-line help. In the other direction, many documents contain example code, sometimes sizeable chunks of it, which will be unusable by default unless specifically licensed otherwise. Literate programs included substantial amounts of documentation (usually design documentation) in the code itself. Obnoxious Accumulation of Cover Texts Every contributor can add up to 5 words of Front-Cover Text and up to 25 words of Back-Cover Text. It won't take long before there is no space for artwork on the front cover, just a dense list of short texts. ([Nit: "The front cover must present the full title with all words of the title equally prominent and visible". So no artistic license allowed in title arrangement. "Nethack: Journey through the MAZES of MENACE" is right out, especially if "MENACE" has little goblins holding up the letters.]) The GNU FDL restricts the presentation of documents (This is a general point, I'm not sure how to word it. We accept many limitations in free software licenses, such as changelog requirements, because they affect the source code but not the object code. It's still possible to create whatever technical effect is desired, even if manipulating the source can get a little awkward. The GFDL, by contrast, makes nearly all of its demands on the "object" of a document, not its source. For example, its requirements for Front-Cover Texts are very similar to the Zope and PHP-Nuke requirements that we have rejected as non-free. This point is also the root problem of the reference-card scenario.) Languages other than English are poorly supported The GNU FDL defines special roles for several kinds of sections (such as "History" and "Dedications"), but refers to these sections by their names in English. A document under the GNU FDL will have to include a section with the title "History", regardless of the language it's written in. Why are Unmodifiable Sections a Problem? Outdated Invariant sections Invariant Sections can become outdated, and there's no way to update them. Even adding a note saying they're obsolete is not allowed. Obnoxious Accumulation of Invariant Sections If two documents under the GNU FDL are reorganized (producing two new documents with parts from each), then the Invariant Sections from each of them have to be duplicated in both, except for sections that are identical. If they differ (for example, both documents have a "Distribution" section, but one has the old FSF address and another has the new one), then both have to be included. This can become unmanageable as documents evolve. ([This point might be subsumed under "Invariant Sections are bad", and in any case we might not care because DFSG#4 allows something similar. Do we care?]) Examples? This means that you can't take the text of the GNU Manifesto from one of the GNU FDL-licensed manuals that includes it and print it on its own -- you have to include all the other invariant sections, front cover texts and so forth as well. It means that you can't include small portions of a manual, and print it on a reference card, without also including the complete text of arbitrarily large texts on the reference card. It means that you have to include invariant texts which may actively detract from the quality of your derivative work. Wikipedia and FOLDOC experienced such a situation, where FOLDOC could not make use of some changes Wikipedia made to FOLDOC's texs, because each such change was tied to an invariant chunk of HTML that would have had to have been included in FOLDOC's non-HTML dictionary. See: http://www.wikipedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2002-June/002238.html http://www.wikipedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2001-October/000624.html One of the key points of copyleft is ensuring that if someone updates a program, other people can take just the changes they consider useful for their own use; the GNU FDL fails here. Given the GNU Projects influence on Debian, shouldn't the GNU Manifesto be included in the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution anyway? Probably. Should we have a special DFSG exemption for doc-debian, and include things like the GNU Manifesto (and "Why Free Software?" and "Free Software needs Free Documentation" and whatever else) in there? I think so. Why does this document use various Capitalisation Styles? Because you haven't edited it yet.
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