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Re: Old manifesto boilerplate licence

On Sat, May 10, 2003 at 03:42:42PM +0100, Colin Watson wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 23, 2003 at 06:28:25PM +0000, Colin Watson wrote:
> > The following licence is used on a number of LDP documents:
> > 
> >   Please freely copy and distribute (sell or give away) this document in any
> >   format. It's requested that corrections and/or comments be forwarded to the
> >   document maintainer. You may create a derivative work and distribute it
> >   provided that you:
> > 
> >    1. Send your derivative work (in the most suitable format such as
> >    sgml) to the LDP (Linux Documentation Project) or the like for
> >    posting on the Internet.  If not the LDP, then let the LDP know
> >    where it is available.
> > 
> >    2. License the derivative work with this same license or use GPL.
> >    Include a copyright notice and at least a pointer to the license
> >    used.
> > 
> >    3. Give due credit to previous authors and major contributors.
> > 
> >   If you're considering making a derived work other than a
> >   translation, it's requested that you discuss your plans with the
> >   current maintainer.
> > 
> > The Debian legal guys usually say that requirements for people
> > making modifications to contact the author or similar are non-free,

The premise that this license contains such a requirement is false.
It's only requested (not required) that the author be contacted.

> > since it means that people in remote locations disconnected from the
> > Internet can't distribute modified versions (the "desert island"
> > test).
> > 
> > However, clause 2 says that derivative works may be licenced under
> > the GPL. May I consider this mail as the required notification to
> > the LDP that Debian will be distributing trivial (i.e. unchanged)
> > derivative works of all HOWTOs and mini-HOWTOs using this licence
> > from http://ftp.debian.org/debian/pool/main/d/doc-linux/, and
> > distribute them all under the terms of the GPL instead? The original
> > licence will be included in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright, the standard
> > location for copyright notices in Debian packages, within the
> > packages provided there.

> The above and this mail are notice that the Debian doc-linux-html and
> doc-linux-text packages will adopt this practice as of the next
> release, since the "send your derivative work to ..." clause is a
> problem for us 

Well, if you don't send it to LDP then you must let the LDP know where it
can be found.  A modification is likely to be of general interest since
the LDP docs are seldom just the manual on use of a particular program
but tend to be integrative in nature.

> and the option to relicence under the GPL removes that problem.

But it introduces new problems.  GPL wasn't intended for documents.  Yet I
would prefer it over GFDL.

> I think it's reasonable to assume that authors don't object
> to this; if they do then I wonder why they're using a licence that
> says "... or use GPL".  :-)

Once in GPL, there's no escape to another license, but in this case there
is a way around this since it's also under the boilerplate license.
Since anyone who wants to modify it will likely go to LDP for the latest
copy, they will find it there with the boilerplate license so they will
thus have more choices.  So what you propose doesn't cause any
significant harm, but I think that going ahead with this is introducing
unnecessary complications for people creating the Debian packages.

			David Lawyer

PS: I mistakenly let my spell checker change "licence" to "license" but
then found out that "licence" is a valid alternative to "license" so I
attempted to restore it.

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