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Re: Should our documentation be free? (Was Re: Inconsistencies in our approach)

On Thu, 21 Aug 2003, Sergey V. Spiridonov wrote:
> I see no need (but it is still possible) to have a very exact line 
> between program and documentation.

There's no need for such a line if and only if we don't make a
distinction between the freedoms that documentation must have, and the
freedoms that software must have.

If we decide to make such a distinction, we have to have a ruberic to
tell one from the other.

> What can be a good start point is that programs can be executed by
> computer. Documentation is intended for human consumption and usually
> can not be executed by computer.

Refering back to Manoj's example, these defintions fail to indicate
which set of standards we should apply to the
documentation+software+data bits.

> I want you understand me correctly, it is possible to have a clear
> exact bright line to distinguish between program and documentation.

I don't follow the logic of this statement. In light of Manoj's
example, how to you separate the program from the documentation? Seems
to me rather like separating the hole from the donut.[0]

I'll bring up one more anecdote that will hopefully bring more light
to this issue.

The US Judicial system has long sought to find a suitable method to
distinguish art from erotica and pornography. Art is rather clearly
protected under the First Amendment. The Supremes have traditionally
held that pornography is not protected to the same degree, and as such
can be regulated to some degree by the legislature.

Because of this, they have had to come forward with a series of
definitions to try to define pr0n.

The best so far?

Justice Potter Stewart's: "I know it when I see it"[1]

Since we can't seem to adequately differentiate between the two,
perhaps we should learn the lesson that the US legislature seems
incapable of. Namely, stop treating them separately, and merely apply
the same ruberic to everything in Debian.[2]

Don Armstrong

0: http://www.seeing-stars.com/Images/Slides/RandysDonuts.JPG
1: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=378&invol=184
2: Excluding copyright notices and separable licenses, of course.
UF: What's your favourite coffee blend?
PD: Dark Crude with heavy water. You are understandink? "If geiger
    counter does not click, the coffee, she is just not thick."


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