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Re: Inconsistencies in our approach

John Goerzen wrote:
>On Fri, Aug 08, 2003 at 12:49:28AM +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:
>> And (again, sorry to keep whipping a dead horse) what is a copy of the
>> King James Bible that's linked into a reader application?
>It's just that.  You haven't transformed the document into object code;
>you've merely surrounded it by object code.

Is this a reasonable thing to want to do? If so, I need to have the same
set of freedoms as the DSFG would provide me with - producing a piece of
software with an embedded GFDL document would require me to license the
software in such a way that it wouldn't be permitted into Debian. I
could avoid this by separating the reader software and the data, but
performing this sort of hack in order to achieve DSFG freeness seems
like the wrong sort of answer.

>> If I modify RFC822 (or 2822, or whatever) to describe an SMTP-based
>> mechanism for washing machine control and accompany it with an
>> application that speaks my modified protocol, I think there's a
>> compelling interest in being able to distribute it.
>I don't disagree with that; I just don't find it so compelling that it
>outweighs the utility of having RFC822 available to start with.

Yet we did (a long time ago) decide that the ability to distribute a
modified Netscape was sufficiently compelling that it outweighed the
utility of having Netscape available to start with. There are valid
technical and practical reasons for us to want modifiable software, and
there are valid technical and practical reasons for us to want
modifiable documentation. RFCs are important - so was Netscape before
Mozilla turned up. A description of why the freedom to distribute
modified documentation is less important than the freedom to distribute
modified software that's based on technical and practical reasoning
would be nice.

(Now, I'm not going to claim that there are no good reasons for
documentation being under licenses that wouldn't pass the DSFG - I
haven't really made up my mind about that. The question is, why do our
users not require the same rights regarding the documentation we
distribute as they do regarding the software we distribute?)
Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.legal@srcf.ucam.org

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