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Re: DFSG analysis of default LDP license

On Tue, May 13, 2003 at 05:35:43PM -0400, Joey Hess wrote:
> Branden Robinson wrote:
[... mail rearranged...]
> > I don't see any flagrant DFSG violations in the above license, but I
> > think some requests for clarification might be a good idea.
> So you're using "BUG" to mean "this should probably be fixed" and not
> "this is non-free". Ok.

Correct.  I should have been clearer about that.  I would have said
"PROBLEM" if I'd seen what I considered an outright DFSG problem as
opposed to just something gray that made me a little nervous.

> >            4. The location of the original unmodified document be
> >               identified.
> > 
> > BUG: Walter Landry has pointed out:
> > 
> >   "[The GNU FDL] requires me to preserve the network location of where
> >   Transparent versions can be found for four years.  Even if it is no
> >   longer correct, and the original author can not be reached.  This is
> >   probably not uncommon.  This does not raise the quality of free
> >   documentation."[2]
> > I feel that this clause might be problematic in a way that clauses 1, 2,
> > and 3 would not be, in that the information in 1, 2, and 3 cannot become
> > false over time.  (If a document is eventually wholly rewritten, the
> > "original author's" copyright no longer attaches anyway.)
> It's annoying, but does not really make it not free, I hope. Remember
> that we dealt with the FSF snail mail address changing; said address is
> in the GPL and is in copyright statements that point to the GPL. Many
> licenses and statements of copyright contain information that will
> become obsolete, email addresses are another good example.
> Anyway, this license seems to leave plenty of room for modifying the
> pointer to the original unmodified document. Unlike the GPL, which may
> or may not be modifiable (the FSF address is in the preamble, and also
> in the example use bit at the end, we've heard conflicting things about
> the preamble modification). And if all other upstream sources go away, I
> think the license even allows us to change the location pointer to point
> to packages.debian.org, where after all you can get the .orig.tar.gz.

Well, I'm willing to go along with this, but it means adding yet another
exception to our "no invariant text" rule, in addition to the five I
already enumerated.  I guess it seems vaguely justifiable under the
spirit of DFSG 4, given that diff/patch format may not be useful for
some works.

However, I'd *still* like clarification of the above clause.  If the
"location of the original unmodified document" is identified but becomes
obsolete, and the modifier is under no obligation to contact all people
who recieved modified copies from him and inform them of an updated
location[1], then what good does this clause really do?  What's the
distributing modifier to do when the "location of the original
unmodified document" isn't even under his control?

I'd rather see this clause clarified until it can do some good, or
stricken entirely so it doesn't serve as bad precedent for more
invariant text requirements.

[1] such a requirement would be too onerous to be free, I think,
    especially given that people who distribute Freely-licensed works often
    have no idea who obtain them

G. Branden Robinson                |    Kissing girls is a goodness.  It is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    a growing closer.  It beats the
branden@debian.org                 |    hell out of card games.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Robert Heinlein

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