Re: query from Georg Greve of GNU about Debian's opinion of the FDL
>Software and documentation are quite different according to the way
>they are treated by the legal system. Moral rights (on which this is
>based) are seen much more strongly for documentation.
Under *some* countries using the *minority* Droit d'Auteur system, perhaps.
This is certainly not an essential part of the system, anyway.
Under the system used in the majority of the world, there is no difference
under copyright law between software and documentation. This is a firmly
established legal fact in the US. Although it hasn't been tested in court in
a lot of countries, I expect that all the common-law based countries will end
up ruling effectively the same way, unless they decide that software is not
The FSF is based in the US. The absolute worst that could happen if a free
documentation license without 'invariant sections' was 'broken' in a
continental European country on the basis of Droit-d'Auteur-specific rulings
would be that the affected documentation would be undistributable there. The
license would remain valid in all common law countries.
Furthermore, this whole scenario requires a deranged author to licence his
work under a free documentation licence (or modify and publish an existing
such work), and then to go sue someone who tries to modify his work in ways
he doesn't like! This deranged author would soon be shunned, and everything
containing his work removed from distribution. It's extraordinarily unlikely
that he could win monetary damages, unless someone really was out to get him
(in which case he could probably win libel, slander, fraud, or other such
As it is you're causing pain to free software in the *entire world*.
As a final note, 'moral rights' are *not* 'copyrights', and a copyright
license should not attempt to have anything to do with them, any more than it
should have anything to do with patent rights, design rights, or trademarks!
(Or, for that matter, rights to trade secrets, merchandising rights,
advertising and likeness rights, or the right to privacy!) How about a simple
disclaimer: "This copyright licence does not pretend to affect the
inalienable moral rights of the author." That solves your legal problem,
without *any* trouble.
I'm beginning to suspect that the FSF isn't listening with their minds open.
:-( I still hope I'm wrong.