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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)

On Wed, 14 May 2003, [ISO-8859-1] Jérôme Marant wrote:

> 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?

Hey, I asked you first.  <g>

My personal opinion is that it must basically be free to modify and
redistribute, translate, reformat, as long as copyright notices and author
attribution is maintained intact.  Pretty much as for software.

> > 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.

Forcing a reformatter to keep invariant sections would tend to make the
licence non-free in practice, if not in principle.  It's a hoop-jump, like
any other.

> > >   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 :-)

Yes, more or less.

> > 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
> > GPL
> > 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.

But in other areas, the FSF tries to define 'linking' as being as broad as
they can.  I can envisage over-zealousness ending up producing a ruling
along these lines...

> > > > 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.

I don't think people really like torturing other people, or blowing other
poeple to pieces in a crowded market.  Yet, when you toss in an over-zealous
interpretation of an ideology, somehow these things happen.

And I think you're being over-broad in your generalisation.  I think that
it's safe to say most *programmers* aren't keen on writing docs, but not
everyone is a programmer...

#include <disclaimer.h>
Matthew Palmer, Geek In Residence

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