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Re: Inconsistencies in our approach



On Thu, Jul 31, 2003 at 12:13:12PM -0500, John Goerzen wrote:
> I think this points out to me that a "strict constructionist" approach to
> documentation does not serve us well.  Speaking in a general sense, rather
> than with regard to the particulars of the FDL, it does not prove a
> significant problem for people down the line if portions of a document
> specifically relating to copyright, licensing, and original authorship
> remain immutable, while the "important" parts remain mutable.

It does pose a significant problem for people down the line if the
immutable parts must be included with everything they derive from the
document. Numerous examples have been cited on -legal.

> RFCs are here to provide specifications, and their usefulness is directly
> derived from the fact that everyone can point to a single unified source for
> a spec.

You have not shown this to be relevant to the licensing issue. Please
do not raise this point if you do not have a solid reason why being
able to create modified versions of RFCs would dimish their value as
"standards". Nobody in the RFC discussion was able to do so.

Note that the license can and should stipulate that modified versions
should be clearly labelled as different from the original
document. (Also note that _some_ such restrictions can be non-free,
but it is relatively easy to write in a manner that does not cause a
problem).

> Consider these things:
> 
>  1. Would removing the manual for Emacs, libc, or other important GNU
>     software benefit our users?  Would it benefit Free Software?

Why are we even considering this? It's not like we refuse to include
something just because a non-free implementation exists.

Consider finding a free(er) version of the relevant manual, forking
it, and updating it.

Consider rewriting it. Note that the documentation for most GNU
project is appalling. For emacs and libc, it is merely poor (they're
only really useful as a reference).

Yes, this would benefit free software and our users.

>  2. Would removing the specifications around wich large parts of our
>     system are based benefit our users?  Free Software?

No. Would it harm them? Not really. Including them, or not, does not
have a significant effect on either.

-- 
  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
   `-             -><-          |

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