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Practical Problems with the GFDL

Perhaps instead of debating the freeness of the GFDL, which seems to
be an emotionally charged issue, we could discuss its "inconveniences"
without bringing in freeness per-se.  If these inconveniences, or
other practical issues, could be shown to the FSF's satisfaction to be
too onerous or problematic, it is possible that the FSF would want to
reconsider the GFDL for that reason alone.

I see a few practical problems with the GFDL:

 - incompatibility with the GPL

 - not a full copyleft (because people can add invariant sections thus
   distributing the document under terms more restrictive than those
   imposed on the materials they received)

 - lack of clarity (even debian-legal can't figure it all out; even
   the FSF makes mistakes in labeling invariant sections; even
   wikipedia used it incorrectly; even with lots of helpful
   explanations from RMS himself there is considerable lack of
   understanding on just what the GFDL actually requires)

 - possibility of obsolescence, via dated invariant sections

 - possibility of obsolescence, via changes in technologies (such as
   the disappearance of printed matter, or the particulars of file
   formats and access restrictions)

 - difficulty in modifying invariant sections of GFDLed documents not
   under unified central control (need permission from many
   contributors or their estates/agents, which becomes more difficult
   with time)

 - can be very difficult or impossible to repurpose chunks (eg copy
   regexp chapter)

 - does not "lead by example" (if all software used the GPL, all code
   would be freely available and sharable.  if all documentation used
   the GFDL, differences in invariant sections and cover matter would
   impede sharing.  perhaps licenses should lead by example to the
   world we all want: a world where sharing is always unimpeded)

 - is causing a lot of fighting and bad feeling between people who
   have the same goal and who should be cooperating and helping each

Some of these do not impact the FSF in its productions of manuals, due
to the FSF's possession of copyright assignments, and its ability to
"break the rules" as necessary.  They would however affect more
distributed groups attempting to communally maintain software that
includes GFDL'ed documentation.  They would even affect groups that
want to exchange & share materials despite having highly divergent
technical goals.  As we all know, one of the FSF's central tennants is
that everyone should have the right to modify and share.  So it seems
to me that these issues may concern the FSF even if they do not
directly affect it.

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