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Re: A possible GFDL compromise

On Sun, 2003-09-07 at 15:24, Richard Stallman wrote:
>     > Another form of tangent is citing practical inconveniences, often
>     > shared with many other accepted free licenses, as if they were
>     > reasons to consider a license non-free.
>     This is incorrect.  Practical inconveniences are precisely the point
>     in deciding whether a restriction is insignificant or not.
> It takes more than just inconvenience to make a license non-free.  In
> effect, you are chosing to ignore the distinction.  If so, it is
> natural your conclusions will disagree greatly with the GNU Project's
> conclusions.

Not having source is a mere inconvenience; you can always decompile the
program, read the assembly, translate it back into C, etc. Not being
able to distribute the program is only an inconvenience; you can always
rewrite it from scratch.

Now, these inconveniences are so egregious and unreasonable that we term
them "non-free". Indeed, these kind of "non-free" inconveniences are so
common in software that there is a specific set of guidelines forbidding

So what divides "egregious practical inconveniences" and "non-free"? I
think nothing, and as such, you should be prepared to argue that the
GFDL on terms of its convenience, because we have no other measure for
whether it is free or non-free. Of course, it is your right to not
participate in this argument, and to release works as you desire. But if
you aren't prepared to defend the freeness works you consider free, you
should also expect other people to consider them non-free even if the
license only contains "practical inconveniences".

The only examples I can think of truely non-free things are not because
of copyright licenses, but because of totalitarian regimes that e.g.
shoot you if you write or copy something they don't like. Or to a lesser
extent, laws like the DMCA which make kinds of reverse-engineering
illegal (so you can't code a free DVD player even if you rewrite it from
scratch). But, these are not non-free *licenses*, they are non-free

So in your opinion, what does make a license non-free? This is not a
rhetorical question; I am honestly interested in both your opinion on
this question, and your opinion on my answer to it above.
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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