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Re: doc-linux package split

On Mon, May 12, 2003 at 02:30:25PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> On Mon, May 12, 2003 at 11:27:56AM +0100, Colin Watson wrote:
> > Right now, I've put all GFDL documents without Invariant Sections in
> > main, regardless of the version; if a concrete project-wide decision
> > is or has been made on 1.2-no-invariants then please let me know.
> debian-legal hasn't reached a consensus yet, let alone done so and
> failed to provoke a rebellsion from the non-legally-minded members of
> the Project, but based on recent discussions, I would not count on any
> version of the GNU FDL being ruled DFSG-free unless a work so licensed
> has several extra-permissions riders tacked onto it -- and as far as I
> know, no work has ever attempted this.

Ugh. That would hit about 25% of currently free HOWTOs and mini-HOWTOs
(114 for 1.1 and 8 for 1.2 at the moment, to be exact), as a previous
collection editor, who in fact is a Debian user and was the person who
brought the non-freeness to my attention in the first place, spent a
good part of his tenure promoting the GFDL.

> > My general impression is that the number of GFDL 1.2 documents is
> > increasing rapidly, despite its currently small size. If it's going to
> > be a problem we should get the word out quickly somewhere that Google
> > likes.
> Can you at least float the idea of using the traditional GNU
> documentation license to the LDP folks?  Not as a mandate, just as a
> suggestion to people who don't have some reason to dislike it.  It's
> short and sweet, and it is a copyleft.

It's already used by a few documents (countable on fingers, I think).

Unfortunately I don't think it's politically possible for me to
recommend another licence, though. Having to talk about licensing a lot
hasn't made me particularly popular in certain LDP quarters, as many
authors care very little about such things, and the LDP's own formal
requirements basically amount to "we need to be able to distribute it",
although the problem of authors going missing is beginning to wake them
up to the practical benefits of requiring permission to distribute
modified versions as well. If I turn round and start trying to persuade
a hundred or so authors that the licence everyone else (including me in
the past) told them was OK is something Debian now doesn't like, well, I
don't think I have a thick enough skin for that.

To be honest, if Debian decides to reject both GFDL 1.1 and GFDL 1.2 and
GNU can't be persuaded to release an acceptable GFDL 1.3 that we can use
under the usual "or any later version" clause, I'm afraid I'm quite
likely to just orphan doc-linux and let somebody else pick up the
pieces. The cost of the licence auditing effort and the flame mail has
already exceeded the benefit to me of a working and free doc-linux by a
couple of orders of magnitude, and my altruism is running out. I have
four other packages in Priority: >= standard anyway. ;-)

The default LDP licence (one which many documents use explicitly and
which it's been agreed applies to any documents which don't specify a
licence) is a little longer but still quite reasonable, and is also more
or less a copyleft. Counting the defaulted documents, it's the most
popular licence among the (mini-)HOWTOs, beating GFDL-1.1-no-invariants
by a whisker.


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Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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