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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)

On Wed, 14 May 2003, Matthew Palmer wrote:

> There is some stuff - specifications, standards, effectively electronic
> copies of what would otherwise be 'standalone' documentation, which
> doesn't have to be "really free" (for want of a better term) in order
> for it to be truly useful to those who would use Debian.  I'm thinking
> things more of a bookish nature -- which don't *need* to be modifiable
> in order to get close to maximum utility.

I'm not sure I follow this.  There are useful non-free works of many 
types, including software, art, books, specifications, etc.  Are you 
saying that some types of work aren't more useful if they're free?  Or 
that some categories are so useful that we should have different standards 
of freedom or include non-free ones?

I can understand the "but it's too useful to be without even if it's
non-free" argument.  However, this argument applies equally well to
various softwares - it's not about categories of copyrighted material,
it's about utility of individual works.  

> Documentation relating to software needs to be really free, in order
> that we can manipulate it in far more interesting ways (such as
> refcarding it, embedding it as online help, or updating it because of
> advances in the program it documents).

So "must" specifications, documentation, and books.  Freedom is a large
plus to the utility of a work.  Debian is one of few groups who has
declared this utility to be important enough that it will include ONLY
free work.

It's really hard for me to see the line between "some documentation 
doesn't need to be free to be useful" and "some software doesn't need to 
be free to be useful".  Both are true statements, but not relevant to 
Debian (IMO).
Mark Rafn    dagon@dagon.net    <http://www.dagon.net/>  

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