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Re: Legal questions about some GNU Emacs files

On Mon, Apr 28, 2003 at 11:45:17PM -0700, Alex Romosan wrote:
> Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> writes:
> > 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'.
> the only problem is there was no social contract when the debian
> project was founded. 

Imagine that. There wasn't a constitution then either. Nor even the
Debian Manifesto. So, which do you think is more likely to describe the
raison d'etre of the Debian project? A random spiel by RMS from 1994,
or the documents that the project itself has written and maintained over
the years?

> at any rate the ideas advocated by rms
> in WHY-FREE were around as far back as 1986 (when i started using
> various gnu programs) 

Which also indicates that WHY-FREE is just one of many exhortations about
free software, rather than anything particularly important, let alone
some founding document that absolutely must be distributed with Debian.

You might like to consider some of the other documents accompanying
WHY-FREE, and their relevance to emacs or Debian.

	CENSORSHIP - 1996-03-01 criticism of the Communications Decency Act
	      of 1996-02, which was struck down on 1997-06-26.
	COOKIES - undated copy of a 1987 urban legend, debunked at, eg
	JOKES - GNU jokes ("What is a hackers' favorite candy?" "Gnugat")
	LPF - 1994-02-03 exhortation to join the League for Programming
	      Freedom, which has been mostly defunct since 1995
	MACHINES - some remarks on how to build emacs on various systems
	celibacy.1, condom.1, sex.6

Reflecting on the liklihood of something like, say, CENSORSHIP or LPF,
being included as an invariant section in future GFDL documentation
might be worthwhile.

Additionally, does it make any sense for any of the following to be in

	COPYING - GNU General Public License
	GNU - GNU Manifesto
	INTERVIEW - 1986-07 interview of RMS by BYTE magazine
	LINUX-GNU - "Linux and the GNU system"
	MOTIVATION - "Reward no motivator"
	THE-GNU-PROJECT - RMS's essay from the book _Open Sources_.
	      Bruce Perens' and Eric Raymond's articles in that book are
	      GPLed, the rest are verbatim copying only.

If they're important for emacs users, why aren't they important for vi
users? If they're important enough to distribute, why are they hidden
away where they're impossible to find?

One of the problems with the GNU FDL is that it requires us to keep
the GNU Manifesto with the emacs documentation, rather than being able
to rip it out of there and put it in an "Introduction to Debian" manual
where it would make much more sense. Of course, writing our own document
makes even more sense, and we're not permitted to base that on the GNU
Manifesto anyway.

> so no, debian didn't come up with the idea of free software.

I have no idea why you feel the need to say that. Do you think someone
claimed otherwise?


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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