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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

> Those are our goals for wanting the GNU FDL to be widely used, but
> those are not our only goals in choosing licenses for our manuals.

The key question is: is the FSF prepared to abandon its use of
non-free licenses for manuals?

Debian stands for freeness.  I for one would think that Debian should
certainly have packages that include lots of free software political
commentary, and I have heard no one suggest that Debian should remove
pro-free-software commentary from manuals.  We are for free software.

But we don't think that a non-free license provision is the right way,
and since we in fact have a distribution which is purely free, we are
greatly disturbed and want to fix the problem of having nonfree
components in it.

Telling us how very useful this nonfreeness is doesn't address our
concerns.  I think we would nearly all grant that having such
commentary in manuals serves the interests of free software, and
obviously if it's invariant, it will be seen by more people.

But we stand for free licensing.  A license which imposes such
restrictions is not free, and the documentation so encumbered is not a
free manual.  Telling us how much it would be good for free software
to have "just this one little thing" be nonfree is beside the point.

Most of what the FSF has said has amounted to "getting our message out
is so important that we will sacrifice freedom to do it."  Not us.  We
will not sacrifice freedom.

One might argue that "this freedom isn't that important".  People have
pointed out ways in which this freedom *is* important: ways in which
it is technically, practically, and politically important.  I would be
happy to repeat those examples if it's desired.

The response to these examples has been "sure, we're restricting
freedom.  But getting our message out is really important!"  The
response, at its best, has been "well, so what?!"

Well, so be it.  But Debian is commited to remaining free software.
It would be ironically sad if the Free Software Foundation decided not
to join us in our commitment to free software: but this does not
change our resolve.

I believe there are many ways to get our message out, and I agree that
doing so is very important.  I do not believe that a nonfree license
is an acceptible tool to this end, and I learned this from you,

Most upsetting is that the FSF turns out to be attached to its little
nonfree clause with an iron-grip tenaciousness I have not elsewhere
seen.  All the time licenses come before Debian which are problematic
and contain small non-free elements.  We talk it out and have a very
good success rate at convincing authors to modify their license terms
to make them free software licenses.  The FSF, by contrast, refuses to
even discuss the issue.  IBM cares more about the freeness of it's
stuff than the FSF now does, and this is very very sad.


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