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Re: Legal questions about some GNU Emacs files

On Mon, Apr 28, 2003 at 04:34:54PM -0700, Alex Romosan wrote:
> Steve Langasek <vorlon@netexpress.net> writes:
> > You have turned the DFSG soundly on its head. In a world of
> > copyrights, all works are non-free *by default*; it is only if they
> > meet certain requirements, as detailed in the DFSG, that we consider
> > them free. Are you saying that the WHY-FREE op-ed piece should be
> > considered free because the DFSG doesn't say anything about opinion
> > pieces?
> _you_ have turned the DFSG on its head by taking something meant for
> software and applying it to non software. 

Yes, and the FSF turned copyright on its head by taking something meant to
restrict people's freedom and applying it in a way that enhances people's
freedom. Does that mean it's a bad thing?

> i've read the DFSG now a
> million times and all i can see is references to software and source
> code. 

Yes. There are many things about the DFSG that aren't written into
it. That's why they're only guidelines, not a precise definition. We've
established that we desire certain freedoms from program documentation --
we need to be able to change the documentation when we change the program,
rather than having to rewrite it from scratch or distribute incorrect
or misleading documentation. Do you dispute that?

> why should be distribute WHY-FREE? because it is our raison d'?tre.

No, it's not. Our raison d'etre is documented in the Debian Manifesto,
distributed in the doc-debian package. Or it's the Debian Constitution,
the Debian Social Contract, or the Debian Free Software Guidelines
distributed in the same package. If you look at the Debian History
package, you'll find the statement that `The Debian Project was officially
founded by Ian Murdock on August 16th, 1993.', which stands in interesting
contrast to WHY-FREE's `Copyright 1994 Richard Stallman'.

It's an interesting article, and it's of historical interest, but it's
no longer particularly relevant. ``the free software movement is still
small, and still young'' ? If WHY-FREE is to have any currency, the
claims about the SPA should certainly be updated to refer to the BSA,
and should cover the DMCA and perhaps the various RIAA raids. But of
course, we can't do that, because the document isn't freely licensed.

> emacs is a political statement and as such it should include the
> WHY-FREE manifesto.

So you agree that the term "software" covers political statements, and thus
that the DFSG should apply to them?

I'm not sure why people seem to think putting something in "non-free"
is so horrible. If you don't think it's a big deal that something doesn't
meet the DFSG, then you should be happy using non-free. If you do think
it's a big deal, then you shouldn't want to use it wherever it happens
to be.


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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