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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)

En réponse à Matthew Palmer <mjp16@ieee.uow.edu.au>:

> On Tue, 13 May 2003, [iso-8859-15] Jérôme Marant wrote:
> > > 1) Are works under the GFDL with invariant sections free?
> > 
> >   It depends on 2) If documentation is software then no. 
> It also depends on your definition of 'free', of course.  What's
> yours?

What's the definition of free documentation?

> > > 2) Can Debian usefully distinguish documentation from software?
> > 
> >   This is the point I would like to be convienced about.
> When it's in a distribution primarily formed of software, I don't think
> it
> can be.  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.

> 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).  This is a transformation much more intrusive
> than merely reformatting it or similar actions which you would 

GFDL permits this I think. But you have to keep the invariant section.
> > > 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
> :-) 
> Acknowledging the FSF for all their work is a good move and should be
> done
> far more often than it is.  According them some special right of
> passage
> goes over the top.

  It is a mtter of being fair.
> > > 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?
> In the sense that our SC and DFSG state that what we hand to our users
> meets
> certain criteria, yes, it does, by leaving our users somewhat confused
> (to
> some greater or lesser degree).  Drawing the line somewhere is going to
> be a
> mighty painful process.  We only have one line at present by which we
> can
> say 'yes' or 'no' (take a guess what it is <g>), drawing up a bunch more
> for
> progressively smaller benefit doesn't look like a winning strategy to
> me...

I'm sorry I don't get it.
> >   Althought we can convince some random upstream author, do we
> >   have any chance about FSF manuals?
> Not likely, from the GNU responses I've seen.  But if you are a true
> friend,
> you will continue to pester them until they throw you out and block
> your
> number with CNI... <g>

  Ah, like telling Bush we don't agree? Unlikely to be successful :-)

> > > 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?
> Yup.

  That's insane.

> This emacs thing actually amuses me somewhat.  The FSF appears to take
> as
> broad a line as possible in defining linking and other 'combined work'
> things (so as to get as much GPL'd software as possible, of course). 
> But if
> that work was really successful, they'd probably end up having
> embedded
> documentation (which emacs may or may not contain).  At any rate, the
> says "thou shalt not distribute a Program with both GPL and other
> stuff",
> and then goes and does that very same thing themselves...

  AFAIK, Emacs is not linked to its documentation.
> > > I see the motivations as very similar.
> > 
> >   Did people suddenly decide to love writing docs?
> I think it's more that some people get very motivated where ideology
> is
> concerned...

  Writing docs is something people don't like. Let's be realistic.


Jérôme Marant

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