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Re: Proposed statement wrt GNU FDL



On Thu, Apr 24, 2003 at 06:34:08PM +0200, Henning Makholm wrote:
>   If the rule had, instead been, that Invariant Sections could not
>   themselves be modified, but could freely be omitted entirely in
>   derived works, Debian would be able to distribute GDFL'ed
>   documentation. 

We can distribute GNU FDL'ed docs as is -- they simply have to not include
any invariant sections.

I don't think it makes sense to include invariant sections ever -- whether
they can be removed by others or not. We wouldn't accept anything that
is entirely invariant as being DFSG-free -- so it doesn't make sense to
accept books with chapters that're invariant as DFSG-free.

If we are willing to accept invariant chapters in DFSG-free
documentation, I don't see how we could possibly claim the GNU FDL is not
DFSG-free. Merely being able to delete something doesn't make it free --
I can delete MS Office easily enough, eg.

In short, I don't think that's a justifiable position.

>      What we do want is for our *users* to be allowed to remove the
>      GNU Manifesto from the manual if they can think of a reason to do
>      so.

No -- we want our users to be able to take everything we give them, and
be able to build on any part of it they might choose, with few exceptions.

>      If only we could be sure that the license on the manuals would
>      allow a user who thinks that "because!" is reason enough for him,
>      to remove the GNU Manifesto, we probably could still distribute
>      the unmidified manuals with the Invariant Section in it. That
>      would mean that part of what we distribute (namely the Invariant
>      Section itself) would not, strictly speaking, be modifyable, but
>      exceptions can be made for things that are both sufficiently
>      non-software-like not to need modifyability for technical reasons
>      and sufficienly relevant not to just constitute a waste of space
>      in the distribution.

Didn't we just say we're not making exceptions for things that are
"sufficiently non-software-like"?

>       Of course both of these limits are
>      judgement calls, and each particular Invariant-But-Removable
>      section will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

And further, as a practical matter, it's not reasonable for us to be
making judgement calls on every random piece of documentation that
gets uploaded.  Just analysing the random licenses people come up with
is hard enough, trying to work out if some rant is "valuable" while
another isn't isn't sensible.

If we're going to make an exception for the GNU Manifesto -- and I think
we should -- let's be clear and deliberate about how we do it. Let's note
that it's completely non-free, and collect it, and any other defining
documents we might want to make similar exceptions for, and put them
in doc-debian with our own manifest and social contract, rather than
scattered through various manuals. That also forms a good way of judging
whether random rants are valuable enough: if they're important enough
to go in doc-debian, they're important enough to waive the DFSG.

Cheers,
aj

-- 
Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <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!''

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