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Re: A possible approach in "solving" the FDL problem

On Thu, Aug 07, 2003 at 08:12:58PM +0100, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 07, 2003 at 07:43:20PM +0200, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> > If we go the general resolution way, I propose the following:
> > 
> > * First and foremost, we should ask our co-developers whether or not
> >   we agree that Software and Documentation should fall under the same
> >   set of rules to be considered free; thus, whether the DFSG can be
> >   applied to "documentation".
> > * If the answer to that first question is that documentation cannot be
> >   considered the same thing as software, we should define what we
> >   understand to be 'software', and what we think is
> >   'documentation'. We should also define what documentation licenses
> >   can be considered free, and what documentation licenses cannot.
> > 
> > Ideas, comments, thoughts?
> A decision that the DFSG does not apply to documentation would
> immediately require either:
> a) A GR to modify the social contract to include a version for
> documentation 

That's exactly what I'm proposing, yes.

> (a waste of time IMO, since it should mean the same
> thing).

Are you 100% sure whether all Debian Developers agree on that? If so,
I'll shut up.

> or:
> b) The removal of all documentation from the Debian archive.
> That is what people have been alluding to by pointing at SC#1, in
> case it wasn't obvious.

It was.

> If your goal here is to expand Debian's definition of "free" to
> include things which are not currently acceptable,

You can't know whether it's currently acceptable. About 1000 people have
agreed upon the DFSG, since they agreed that software, not
documentation, should be free. Although I can't come up with an example,
I don't think it's impossible that there are some Debian developers out
there who earn their living by providing non-free documentation for the
free software they write.

> then you are
> essentially trying to fork the project.

Either way, a fork is a possible outcome. If this disagreement does not
find a compromise, it is not unthinkable that some people would
eventually get fed up, and fork into something that does accept the FDL
as a Free license.

In fact, if the debian-legal group were to decide all by itself that
software and documentation are essentially the same thing, I'm afraid a
fork would be much more likely.

> If not, then I don't see the
> point in wading through all that bureaucracy just to stay in one
> place.

We wouldn't be staying in one place. By doing what I propose, we would
know our opinion as a group. Right now, all we know is what some of us
think personally, but that will not get us anywhere.

Wouter Verhelst
Debian GNU/Linux -- http://www.debian.org
Nederlandstalige Linux-documentatie -- http://nl.linux.org
"An expert can usually spot the difference between a fake charge and a
full one, but there are plenty of dead experts." 
  -- National Geographic Channel, in a documentary about large African beasts.

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