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

On Sun, 27 Apr 2003, Nathanael Nerode wrote:

> * Some people believe that immutable sections are not acceptable in a free 
> document,


> but a majority of Debian seems to think that immutable sections are 
> free provided they consist of non-technical material.

Woah.  I don't think anyone has said that, let alone there being a
consensus.  IMO, immutable text, just like immutable code, is not free.  
Non-technical immutable text is still not free.

> * A large majority of Debian seems to think that *non-removable* immutable 
> sections (which GFDL "invariant sections" are) are an unacceptable 
> infringement of the right to modify, the sole exceptions being copyright 
> notices and the associated licence texts.

Indeed.  And removable immutable sections must be removed before the work 
can be considered free.

[snipped practical examples which stem from non-freeness of a work]

These are all interesting points, and apply to both software and
documentation.  However, the fundamental reason to call these things
"non-free" is because they aren't free.

> Better to simply state "We would really like you to include this
> Immutable Section; it's rude to remove it", rather than making
> non-removability a legal condition and opening the can of worms.

Almost.  It would be free to state "please include this section without 
modification".  It's still not free to have an immutable section, even if 
it can be removed.  It can be made free by removal of that section.
Mark Rafn    dagon@dagon.net    <http://www.dagon.net/>  

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