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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)

Mark Rafn <dagon@dagon.net> writes:

> Jerome, some of the responses you've gotten have been dismissive of your 
> opinion, and a lot of this is normal debian-legal style.  I hope you don't 
> take it too personally.

  Thanks for considering my opinions. I don't think they counts here for
  a future decision anyway. But I'd be please to see people answering
  and enlightening me.

> I would like to understand your position better.  I'm pretty sure I don't 
> agree with you, but it's not clear exactly what you want Debian to decide 
> with respect to the following:
> 1) Are works under the GFDL with invariant sections free?

  It depends on 2) If documentation is software then no. 

> 2) Can Debian usefully distinguish documentation from software?

  This is the point I would like to be convienced about.

> 3) If so, is there a different set of criteria which should be used to 
> test the freedom of documentation as opposed to software?

  I know nothing of the publishing world. This is the reason why
  I cannot accept blindly any decision.

  I don't have the impression of writing code when I write
  documentation or speeches (cf etc files in Emacs). Why?

> 4) Should Debian include (in main) non-free works if they're not software?

  Hasn't it be the case in the past with some documentations?

> And some more specific questions, which I don't think have been asked 
> directly, as most d-l posters assume "no" to be obvious.
> 5) is everything from the FSF free by definition, even if the license 
> would be non-free for someone else?
> 6) should Debian grant special status to the FSF and allow non-free FSF 
> work to be part of Debian?

  5) and 6) are interesting questions. This wouldn't be fair of course :-) 

> 7) should Debian leave useful stuff in the main archive even if it is 
> later determined to be non-free?

  Of course not :-) 

> On Tue, 13 May 2003, [iso-8859-15] Jérôme Marant wrote:
>> Could we consider some invariant sections as "non-problematic"?
> This would seem to be issue #6.  I'd say "no" for a lot of reasons, but 
> I'm happy to hear yours.

  For instance, does the GNU manifesto as invariant section hurt?

>> >> But then, if we're seeking for enemies, I believe they
>> >> are not on GNU side ...
> Quite agreed.  I don't consider this to be seeking enemies, but rather 
> refusing to go along with a friend who is making a very bad mistake.

  Althought we can convince some random upstream author, do we
  have any chance about FSF manuals?

>> Err, it is a regression isn't it? I've always considered it as part
>> of Emacs, and even its online help. It has always worked like that. 
> If it's part of emacs, then it's very clearly non-free software and the 
> whole thing should be removed from Debian (unless the FSF doesn't have to 
> follow everyone else's definition of freedom).

  "The whole thing"? Emacs itself?

>> You mentioned in a previous mail packaging old versions of manuals.
>> This is IMHO pretty useless because noone cares for outdated manuals.
> Some of us don't care for non-free manuals either.  There are a number of 
> cases where I choose to use free software over non-free software that 
> meets my current needs somewhat better.  I'm glad Debian helps me make 
> that choice, and I don't understand why documentation would be any 
> different.

  Probably because free equivalents of non-free docs are not likely
  to appear, unless those non-free docs get their license changed.
  People don't like writing docs.

>> Althought people can be motivated in forking or reimplementing
>> applications, I doubt anyone will be motivated enough to fork
>> documentation and noone'll be able to be as up-to-date as the
>> Emacs manual.
> I see the motivations as very similar.

  Did people suddenly decide to love writing docs?

Jérôme Marant


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