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Re: The debate on Invariant sections (long)

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

> This problem is unfortunate, but no worse in the case of two ways of
> using the GFDL than with a pair of two different free software
> licenses.

But no pair of licenses is claiming to create a shared commons.
Heretofore, the FSF has been claiming to create a new commons within
the GPL/LPGL universe.  The GFDL not only does not contribute to that
commons, nor can it draw from it, but does not even create a single
commons itself.  Questions of freeness aside, it is this which most
disturbs me about the GFDL: I can't just know that some set of works
are all under the GFDL and so assume that I have certain freedoms with
respect to them: I need to consider the interactions of Invariant
Sections and Cover Texts.

Back to the issue at hand: individual documents licensed under the
GFDL may be free, but derived works from them may not be useful to the
original author: thus, it doesn't seem like a copyleft.

Documents under the GFDL can't be freely adapted to my needs.  I also
don't have freedom to improve such a document and release my
improvements alone.  You say that the purpose of a political essay is
to sway readers to the ideas of the author: I agree, but I assert it
is the reader, and not the author, who decides on this purpose.  The
reader, not the author, corresponds to a person running a program.

There are reasons to distribute political essays without license to
modify them... but such essays are not Free.  Your essays, for
example, distributed under invariant-copy licenses, only serve the
purpose of readers who wish to be informed as to your views.  If
distributed under a free license, say the GPL, they might serve
those purposes, your purposes in the initial writing, and also enrich
the community's political discourse.

It's as fine and reasonable for you to be unwilling to contribute to
that as it is for many people to be unwilling to contribute to the
community's pool of useful software: but neither situation is free.

You've probably heard the above arguments before; I know I have.
Despite my searching through the FSF's web site, though, I couldn't
find any answers to the following questions:

1. Does the FSF consider an invariant-copies-only political essay

2. What's the deal with the GPL-incompatible GFDL?  What was so
   important that sacrificing this was worth it? 

3. Where's a clear explanation of what I *can't* do with a GFDL'd
   document?  What do I do when I find a badly inconsistent document
   (non-Secondary Invariant sections, for example)?  What happens when
   a reasonable transformation of a document makes an Invariant
   Section non-Secondary?

4. Given that the FSF's screwed up use of the GFDL (the GDB manual,
   for a while), should I trust that this license is
   understandable by the general public?  

5. Why should I make some sections of my document invariant?

6. Perhaps most importantly, what are my alternatives, and why should
   I prefer the GFDL to each of those for practical or moral reasons
   (comparing to at least the GPL, MIT license, invariant-copying


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