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

On Wed, 2003-08-13 at 15:37, Sergey V. Spiridonov wrote:
> Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> > You recommend that we assign values to all the pros & cons of a
> > particular license, and call free any license in which the positives
> > outweigh the negatives.  Am I understanding you correctly?
> Yes, exactly.
> > The problem with this* is that what you're really describing is the
> > utility of the license, which is something completely different from
> > the freedom of it.  Take the simple case of a license that pays me to
> > accept it -- it may be non-free in many ways, but a lot of people
> > would probably think the positives (free money) outweigh the negatives
> > (no right to modify or redistribute, for example).
> Unfortunately we do not live in the ideal world.
> Freedom has a value because it is convenient and useful to be free. 
> Nothing else. There is no need to have a freedom which can't be used, 
> and sometimes we can agree to give away a bit of our freedom, which we 
> can't (or do not want) utilize in exchange for other values.
> A good example is GPL, which takes away the freedom to use GPL sources 
> in closed sources. We don't want to utilize such a freedom and we 
> exchange this freedom for helping GPL to spread. Note, there still can 
> be special rare cases, where such a freedom is really needed.
> Another example can be FDL. It takes away the freedom to modify parts 
> that deals exclusively with the relationship of the publishers or 
> authors political statements. Usually, there is no need to modify 
> someones political statement, and we exchange this freedom for helping 
> FDL documentation to spread. Note, there still can be special rare 
> cases, where such a freedom is really needed.

You speak as though freedom is a commodity to be bought and sold on the
futures market, and as though market share was more valuable than
freedom.  Freedom which you personally do not have a "use for" is
freedom that can be traded away in exchange for market share or more
software or something.  

You have taken the one sacred cow in the entire place here, and have
suggested that it is merely a convenience, and that we should have a
barbecue next Friday afternoon.  "Free enough" -- them's fightin'

You have also suggested that market share or wider distribution is a
thing of sufficient value on its own that it is worth sacrificing some
freedom to get it.  That is clearly nonsense; anyone to whom market
share is more valuable than freedom should be standing in Redmond, WA
with a job application.  I heard they're still hiring up there.  Or
working for RedHat.  Or Sun.  Or somebody else like that.  

What you have missed is that freedom is easily traded away, but only
gotten with blood, sweat, and tears.  Those who have paid for their
freedom in sweat are far less likely to give it away as freely as you
wish to.

*I* think you have the wrong number. 
Stephen Ryan                                        Debian Linux 3.0
Technology Coordinator
Center for Educational Outcomes
at Dartmouth College

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