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Re: Is documentation different from software [Re: Proposed statement wrt GNU FDL]

On Fri, 25 Apr 2003, Mark Rafn wrote:

> > Could we produce a distinction amongst our offerings in the following
> > manner:
> Why do we want to produce a distinction where there is none?

We obviously disagree on whether there is a distinction.

> > To roast a hoary chestnut, I've not yet seen a good argument why we'd want
> > the RFCs to be relicensed as DFSG-free, apart from the "so it can go into
> > Debian main". 
> Oh, that's easy.  I wish they were free so I could reuse the good bits in 
> other works, and otherwise improve my world by creating and distributing 
> derived works.

I see nothing in the RFC licence which limits you from doing that.  Even all
rights reserved doesn't limit you from doing that in practice, since you can
always make a reference to the other work.  But the RFC licence allows you
to go further - Section 3 of the general guidelines for copyright of RFCs
(as I've just read it from /usr/share/doc/doc-rfc-std/copyright, doc-std-rfc
version 20010829-1) states that "Copying and distributing portions of an
RFC" is allowed.  Proper credit and citations must be provided.

> > Modifying an RFC and re-releasing it is not a good thing
> It's exactly as good a thing as modifying Apache and re-releasing it.  
> The modified version is expected to fit someone's needs better than the
> original.

Except that it's typically a lot easier to work out where a program has been
incompatibly modified ("oops, compile error, damn, the API changed") than a
standard has been modified.  The use of 'diff' notwithstanding.

> License texts themselves are a special case.  The actual terms of the 
> grant of permission cannot be changed, and can only be encoded in the 
> original wording.  That makes perfect sense, and is fundamentally 
> different from a copyrightable work in a definable way.

I'll agree with that.  Should something along those lines go somewhere
definitive so we can point people who say "but you can't change the GPL!  So
that's non-free!".

#include <disclaimer.h>
Matthew Palmer, Geek In Residence

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