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Re: Is the GNU FDL a DFSG-free license?

Joerg Wendland <joergland@debian.org> writes:

> Matthew Garrett, on 2003-08-22, 13:09, you wrote:
>> As previously pointed out, the same is true of software. I could insert
>> anti-semetic messages into pam-pgsql and NMU it now. Perhaps you should
>> change your license?
> No, you didn't get it. What I wrote before was example for why invariant.
> sections _can_ be useful.

Indeed, invariant sections can be useful.  I have written several
works which I do not give *any* permission to alter, and others which
I do not even give permission to distribute.  Neither set contains
free software.

>> If Emacs had an invarient section discussing fishing and how this had
>> inspired the authoring of the manual, it would be awkward for me to
>> use chunks in my document on an application for recording fishing
>> statistics. And if you say "But why would you want to do that" then I'll
>> scream because that's entirely not the point.
> But this _is_ the point. You cannot blame the author of the manual if it
> will be awkward for _you_ because this is entirely your problem.

I do not blame the author, I merely categorize his output.  If he
gives me essentially all the rights he has, that output is free.  If
he requires me to eat three prawns and sing Oh Susanna for each copy I
make, it is not free.  If he requires me to only use his work in
certain ways, but not for operating nuclear power plants, building
encylopedias, storing on encrypted flash memory drives, building
competing source control systems, publishing substantive reviews or
criticisms of his work, or contradicting or omitting his political
opinions... then it is also not free.  This does not mean it is bad or
worthless, or that the author is evil.

Someone who writes a work and licenses it under the GFDL does a
constructive and morally good thing.  It is not as constructive or as
good as if he put it under the GPL or the MIT/X11 license, but it is
not evil.  However, that work is not free, and Debian should not
incorporate it.


Brian T. Sniffen                                        bts@alum.mit.edu

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