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Re: A possible GFDL compromise

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> wrote:
>     Several Debian developers have claimed that they are working with the
>     FSF to make the GFDL DFSG-free and GPL-compatible, specifically:
> I think I see two misunderstandings here.  Just who has misunderstood,
> I cannot tell.
> First, as far as I have heard, Debian has not yet voted on the
> question of which GFDL-covered documents to accept.  I have therefore
> been trying to convince Debian developers that the GFDL is a free
> license and should be accepted.  Has Debian actually made this
> decision?

It would be fair to say that Debian has decided that the GFDL is not
free according to the DFSG.  This opinion has only been getting
stronger and more unified over time.  However, there is a significant
minority who believe that documentation should be judged by a
different standard than the DFSG.  They have yet to enumerate what
those differences would be, though.

I do not think that you should count on changing Debian's mind on
this.  You may be able to count on Debian procrastinating, but the
resolve of Debian has only grown stronger.

> Second, the FSF is not working on changing the GFDL now.  We intend to
> continue to use invariant sections that cannot be removed, as we have
> always done.  The only issue being considered (if it is still being
> considered) is what decision Debian will make about use of the GFDL.

The release mananger was dragging his heels on removing GFDL'd
documents from Debian because he believed that changes were going to
be made to the GFDL.  I can not speak for him, but if the FSF is not
going to change the GFDL, then I don't see any reason to delay.

> To make the GFDL somehow compatible with the GPL would be desirable,
> but it is not simple.  It would require making a sort of
> combined-license with terms like the GPL for software and terms like
> the GFDL for documentation.  That raises lots of difficult issues.  At
> this point all we have done is begin to think about it in very general
> terms.  We won't try to go beyond that until after GPL 3 is ready--and
> we're not making much progress on GPL 3 due to lack of manpower.

The GFDL can be made GPL compatible by adding a conversion clause
simliar to LGPL Section 3.  What is not simple is to figure out what
the difference is between software and documentation.  I don't think
you ever will find a meaningful distinction.

Walter Landry

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