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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)



On Wed, 14 May 2003 18:39:10 +0200 (CEST)
Jérôme Marant <jerome.marant@free.fr> wrote:
> > It also depends on your definition of 'free', of course.  What's
> > yours?
> 
> What's the definition of free documentation?

In the context of Debian, the DFSG pretty much says it all. Freedom to
modify, freedom to distribute, freedom to use in whatever way we want.
All three of those *can* be applied to documentation.

If that's not what you mean, then your question should probably be "is
non-Free documentation unethical?"

> > 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.

Unfortunately, it doesn't. Reference cards, by their nature, are useless
if they're huge. The GNU manifesto for instance, included on a
reference card for GNU Emacs, would be quite silly.

Not only that, but if you're wanting to print this reference card out
(and print out more than 100 of them), you need to include the Invariant
sections, cover texts, front matter, etc., etc..

Many forms of "embedding it for on-line help", for instance compressing
it so it fits on a PDA, may violate point 2; "You may not use technical
measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the
copies you make or distribute." Now, some transformations to given
formats may affect (as a side-effect) the ease with which one can
copy or view the work. Given that, what matters is how well a lawyer can
convince a judge that compression is considered a "technical measure" to
"control the reading or further copying". And, of course, if you want to
embed some of the text in the app itself, things get really hairy.


> > :-) 
> > 
> > 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.

Where do you, personally, draw the limits? I feel that it's an injustice
to the FSF itself and the entire community to accept non-Free licenses
even if their non-Freeness is rooted in giving the FSF "credit".

> > > > 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.

Well, luckily Emacs itself is released under a reasonable license. If
the Emacs documentation is considered "part of Emacs", we're prefectly
free to take it out of Emacs and put it elsewhere.

Worth noting that this is only possible because the GPL is Free. If
we're not careful, somebody will put some copyrighted work (that they
don't hold the copyright to) in an Invariant section, and the entire
thing will have to be scrapped. And this is *documentation*, so you'd
have a hard time proving in court that your replacement documentation
wasn't in some way a derivative work of the illegal original.

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