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

* MJ Ray (markj@cloaked.freeserve.co.uk) [030828 12:50]:
> On 2003-08-28 09:55:58 +0100 Andreas Barth <aba@not.so.argh.org> wrote:
> >Comment: documentation is not software, and DFSG is made with software
> >in mind. [...]
> Please read 
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/debian-legal-200308/msg00690.html 
> for more information on what was in mind when DFSG was made and recast 
> your vote accordingly.
> Why have we another sudden influx of people who haven't read any of 
> the history on this?  (Rhetorical.  I think we can guess.)

I _have_ read the history. But in spite of Bruce words the DFSG just
doesn't apply plainly to e.g. documentation. (I'm not saying that
Bruce didn't want docu to be free. I'm just saying that the DFSG are
very good and balanced in relation to software, but they don't really
fit to docu, sound files etc.)

e.g. look at DFSG 4:
| Integrity of The Author's Source Code
| The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in
| modified form _only_ if the license allows the distribution of "patch
| files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program
| at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of
| software built from modified source code. The license may require
| derived works to carry a different name or version number from the
| original software.

How does this match to docu? The words "source-code" does not really
fit. Is it ok if the license allows the usage of a output programm
that will reveal certain parts of the documents (e.g. depending on
flags in a non-invariant part of the text file)? Or remove parts at
installation (=? compile) time? See as another example the RFCs. Would
they fit if they would only require that modifications must not be
named RFC... (I'm not saying the do have this copyright now)?


But, on the other hand, it is _very_ clear that debian must and shall
remain free. I hope that we all agree to this goal.

So, we're in a rather bad situation. Speaking in pictures, we have
only a hammer now, but treating every like a nail would be a mistake.
We must treat docu now, and we must treat it somehow. The DFSG doesn't
really fit (see above). In my opinion it would be wrong to treat docu
in spite of the differences just as code. We can use the DFSG in the
meantime (until creation of an more appropriate tool) and try to
handle the docu carefull, knowing that it is _not_ code. That means
that there might be a situation where we would accept small
differences to the plain words as long as it is neccessary _only_
because we're speaking about docu and not software. I hope there is
not the need to do this, but we must always carefully act with the
knowing that we're not handling software, but docu - where the things
are in fact different.

And, for the long term, a modified version of DFSG for docu (and other
non-code parts) would be much better. That would fit, instead of
trying to make a non-fitting text fit.

All that doesn't mean that I want to accept the GFDL plainly. The word
"free" in GFDL has just the same meaning as the word "open" has had in
"Open Group" for a long time, or the word "democratic" in the names of
some countries.

(Well, this is a rather difficult thing, and if there are
misunderstandings because english is not my native language, I want to
apologize for them. Please don't flame me as long as it could be just
a missunderstanding.)

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