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Re: various opinions on Debian vs the GFDL

On Wed, May 07, 2003 at 12:58:20PM -0400, Anthony DeRobertis wrote:
> On Tuesday, May 6, 2003, at 10:03 AM, Anthony Towns wrote:
> >you should be able to do a
> >text representation of a FFT or something, I would've thought. Long,
> >and ugly, but editable as text,
> That's no better than a hex dump of the PCM data. 

So? The phrases "hex dump" and "PCM data" don't appear in the GFDL. And
I'm not saying that this is good, or ideal, just that it's feasible
and allowed.

> It's not any more 
> editable in a text editor (possibly, quite less) than a hex dump of an 
> ELF object. 

Sure it is. I can tell you how to change:

	<note pitch="C#" timbre="trumpet">

to a "D" just by guessing. Are you claiming to be too stupid to be able to
do the same?

The requirement in the GFDL is simply this: 

	* machine-readable copy
	* format whose specification is available to the general public
	* format that is sutiable for revising the document straightforwardly
	  with generic text editors [or irrelevant alternatives]
	* format this is suitable for input to text formatters or for automatic
	  translation to a variety of formats suitable for input to
	  text formatters
	* format with markup that has not been arranged to thwart or discourage
	  subsequent modification by readers
	* [irrelevant remark about image formats]

An XML score satisfies all these requirements as a way of representing music.

> _Technically_ it's editable. Practically, it's not 

No, you're wrong. An XML score is trivially and straightforwardly
editable, both technically and practically, and it's a perfectly
reasonable way of writing down music.

Samples and recordings are more difficult, mainly because the concept of
"revision" doesn't really exist, per se. One possibility is just to do
a hex dump -- it's as straightforwardly editable with a hex editor as
_anything_ is, after all. Another possibility is to create a fancy XML
format, something like:

	<filter type="lowpass" val=3>

Simply being able to cut up the sound and insert your own pre-recorded sound
effects is probably enough to satisfy that requirement actually -- so a format
that looks like:

	<data annotate="My">1234123412341234123414523546356473</data>
	<data annotate="name">1345234529034234856734750491094385109</data>
	<data annotate="is">138419235189457135092358904851</data>
	<data annotate="Anthony">1238457127341590189045739047590273490576</data>

that you can easily cut up and replace with a text editor seems perfectly
legitimate to me.

	* it's machine readable
	* writing a specification and publishing it seems straightforward -
	  a hexdumped wav, with a small XML wrapper, eg
	* you can revise it with a text editor easily enough -- changing it
	  to be "is Anthony My name" is easy, eg; and there's no requirement
	  for arbitrary modifications to be easy or straightforward
	* you can certainly change the format automatically easily
	* the format's been designed to make it as easy as possible to modify,
	  not arranged to thward anything

> "...suitable for revising the document STRAIGHTFORWARDLY with generic 
> text editors..."


> Even editing MIDI-esque XML with a text editor wouldn't be all that 
> straightforward.

Sure it would. See above. Arrange for your format to have clear textual
beat markers at timed intervals, instead of word intervals if you like.

> They allow images to be edited with image editors; drawings to be 
> edited with drawing programs; text files to be edited with text 
> editors; why not sounds with sound editors?

Because they didn't think of it, or because they're stupid. It's not a
good license, and it's not a good requirement, but that does not make
it non-free.

> And, what about video? Are we supposed to edit that with text editors, 
> too?

If you want to include it in a GNU FDL document, or if you want to
license it under the GNU FDL, yes. Although, you could claim that video
fits under "images composed of pixels" and thus must be revisable with
a generic paint program.

The questions at hand here are can you license sound stuff under the
GNU FDL, and, if not, can the GNU FDL possible be DFSG-free. I think
the answer to the first question is yes, and, even ignoring that, I'm
not really convinced the answer to the second is no.


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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