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Re: A possible GFDL compromise: a proposal

Mathieu Roy <yeupou@gnu.org> wrote:

> I think that the following article explains well why not everybody
> agree that texts and softwares require the exact same freedom:
>         http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-doc.html

I quoted from that in a message CC'ed to RMS yesterday, if you recall.
Parts of it are very much in line with equating freedom to modify
software with the freedom to modify its own documentation.

: Free documentation, like free software, is a matter of freedom, not
: price. [cut] GNU manuals come with permission to copy and modify; the
: (OReilly Associates) Perl manuals do not. These restrictions are the
: problems.

Ironically, OReilly Associates released the MH book under the GPL and
the FSF uses the GFDL for the MH-E manual.

: The criterion for a free manual is pretty much the same as for free
: software: it is a matter of giving all users certain
: freedoms. Redistribution (including commercial redistribution) must be
: permitted, so that the manual can accompany every copy of the program,
: on-line or on paper. Permission for modification is crucial too.

: But there is a particular reason why the freedom to modify is crucial
: for documentation for free software. When people exercise their right to
: modify the software, and add or change its features, if they are
: conscientious they will change the manual too--so they can provide
: accurate and usable documentation with the modified program. A manual
: which forbids programmers to be conscientious and finish the job, or
: more precisely requires them to write a new manual from scratch if they
: change the program, does not fill our community's needs.

: Other users consider proprietary manuals acceptable for the same reason
: so many people consider proprietary software acceptable: they judge in
: purely practical terms, not using freedom as a criterion. These people
: are entitled to their opinions, but since those opinions spring from
: values which do not include freedom, they are no guide for those of us
: who do value freedom.

I also believe in the above, but not water-down with the paragraphs I
have omitted from that link.  To justify Invariant Sections, he writes:

: These kinds of restrictions are not a problem because, as a practical
: matter, they don't stop the conscientious programmer from adapting the
: manual to fit the modified program. In other words, they don't block the
: free software community from making full use of the manual.
: However, it must be possible to modify all the _technical_ content of the
: manual, and then distribute the result in all the usual media, through
: all the usual channels; otherwise, the restrictions do block the
: community, the manual is not free, and so we need another manual.

However, I disagree.  We have shown many reasons Invariant Sections inhibit
_making full use of the manual_.  The GFDL even limits the _usual
channels_ (DRM clause) and _usual media_ (transparent copy).

As an aside, consider that the FSF publishes code under the GPL and its
main documentation under the incompatible GFDL.  Only they as
copyright-holder can cut/paste text between the two, effectively
limiting other developers' ability to fork the projects.  Arguing that
the old license was incompatible doesn't fix the problem.  Why don't
they use the GPL for the main documentation instead?  This is not some
third party book about the software, this is the principal source.


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