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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)

On Mon, May 19, 2003 at 10:54:36AM -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
>     Not consistently.  The GNU FDL is a licensing initiative that is
>     apparently intended to be used for all FSF documentation.  The
>     traditional GNU documentation license did not always include Invariant
>     Sections.
> In the past, some of our manuals included invariant sections and some
> did not.  Today that is still the case.  However, in the past we
> needed an ad hoc license to have invariant sections.  What changed
> with the GFDL is that it is a single license that covers both cases.

The GNU FDL does more than that.  There are freedoms people could
exercise under the traditional GNU documentation license that people can
no longer exercise, even in the absence of Invariant Sections.  For
instance, the traditional GNU documentation license doesn't say anything
about Endorsements, Acknowledgements, Dedications, or special actions
that must be taken in the event of copying in quantity.

>     You did not offer very specific rebuttals to any Debian forum of which
>     I'm aware.[2]
> Arguing with you is not useful.  You make many pedantic attacks about
> minor points.  See above for one example; here's a second, from the
> same message:

Could you offer me some criteria for evaluating the terms "pedantic" and
"minor"?  I take freedom very seriously; I do not regard it as a minor
issue, nor do I regard disagreements over its exercise as pedantic in

Also, I admit to distress at your characterization of my questions as
"attacks".  If I have given personal offense, I apologize, and I'd like
to know what I can alter in the tone of my messages to stop doing so.

I trust that you do not consider a critical analysis of the GNU Free
Documentation License as ipso facto an attack, whether on the FSF or you

>     [RMS said:]
> 	    We want to encourage widespread use of the FDL for two reasons:
> 	    1. It leads to a pool of text that can be copied between manuals.
> 	    2. It is (or at least ought to be) good for helping commercial
> 	    publishers succeed publishing free manuals.
>     I do not understand how the traditional GNU documentation license,
>     without their proto-invariant sections, does not achieve either of the
>     above goals.
> 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.

What are the other goals?

> I could respond to all of these pedantic attacks, but it isn't useful.
> You can always make more of them.  You have more time for this than I
> do.  So I decided to spend my time on other things.

If you'd enumerate more of the motivations behind the GNU FDL, it might
help to better establish the parameters of the discussion.

Furthermore, it is possible that some authors of free documentation do
not share these as-yet-unstated goals of the FSF.  Therefore it might
not be a good idea for those authors to adopt the GNU FDL, since to do
so might work in furtherance of goals not in their interests.  I think
it is unwise for authors to adopt software licenses in ignorance, so
please tell the community what goals beyond the above two you see the
GNU FDL as promoting.

> You raised one point that I am concerned about:
>     * Debugging with GDB; "GDB version 5  May 2000"[1]
>     [1] This manual is an interesting case because it started out with no
> 	invariant sections at all, but later adopted the GNU FDL and marked
> 	non-Secondary Sections as Invariant[3], which RMS said was "not
> 	permitted"[4].
> I will investigate this, and if a non-Secondary section has indeed
> been marked as invariant, I will make sure that is corrected.

Is the FSF willing to dual-license manuals that previously had no
invariant sections at all, such as _Debugging with GDB_, under the GNU
FDL and the traditional GNU documentation license simultaneously?

Finally, would you consider a manual that used the GNU FDL -- or claimed
to do so -- which marked a non-Secondary Section as Invariant to be
Free as in freedom?

G. Branden Robinson                |     One doesn't have a sense of humor.
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     It has you.
branden@debian.org                 |     -- Larry Gelbart
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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