Re: A possible GFDL compromise
Richard Stallman wrote:
>The goal of invariant sections, ever since the 80s when we first made
>the GNU Manifesto an invariant section in the Emacs Manual, was to
>make sure they could not be removed. Specifically, to make sure that
>distributors of Emacs that also distribute non-free software could not
>remove the statements of our philosophy, which they might think of
>doing because those statements criticize their actions.
Removal in *the copies they distribute* only. That's important.
>Changing the GFDL to permit removal of these sections
>would defeat the purpose.
Removal in a *copy*. Remember that.
>Nowadays we have to struggle constantly against the tendency to bury
>the free software movement and pretend that we advocate "open source".
>So I don't think we can conclude that such precautions are no longer
Au contraire. In the early 80s, the only way the GNU Manifesto was available
to the general public was through distribution along with programs or
Now, the World Wide Web exists. And the FSF has its own website. Anyone who
looks at the attribution of any FSF program or manual can probably find the
website. People who have never seen an FSF program or manual can find the
website, too. The website will always contain the GNU Manifesto, unmodified,
regardless of the actions of distributors.
In other words, what happens to the local copies simply isn't as important as
it used to be.
In any case, your argument for Invariant Sections applies just as well to
programs as it does to manuals!
Would you consider a hypothetical program license to be free if it allowed
'off-topic' text which must be present unmodified in source and object code
of all derived versions, and must be displayed (perhaps through a
command-line option) by every derived program? Maybe you would, in which
case you're consistent. I wouldn't.
How about a license which allowed off-topic code (say, a 'hangman' game in
the 'ls' program) which must be present unmodified in source code of all
derived versions, and must be invoked (perhaps through a command-line option)
by every derived program?
I see nothing inherently wrong with the occasional non-free manual, when it's
non-free for a good reason (like yours), but it's still non-free.