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Re: A possible GFDL compromise

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

>     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.
> Those words are simply an indirect way of declining to recognize the
> difference between loss of freedom and practical inconvenience.

Can you explain the difference for me, as you understand it?  Perhaps
we are using the terms in different ways.  

> Where we draw the line, when judging licenses as free or not, is
> whether you can practically speaking make the code or the manual do
> the substantive job you want.  If license restrictions make it
> impossible to make the technical changes you want, then the license is
> non-free.  If they make it possible, but with conditions you might not
> necessarily like, it is free but with a practical inconvenience.

This definition isn't adequate by itself.  For example, a software
license might say "you can modify this software all you want, as long
as you send me $10."  That's not a free software license: but it is
still the case that the license terms do not make it *impossible* to
make a certain technical change.  They do it with a condition that we
don't like--indeed, a condition that we absolutely reject!

So perhaps you could explain how you understand that case?  There are
clearly conditions which don't *prevent* technical changes, but "merely"
attach annoying restrictions--and yet, which make it nonfree.

So how do you decide that "you must distribute invariant text" is a
mere practical inconvenience, and "you must send me $10" makes it
nonfree?  (Remembering, please, that in both cases the license doesn't
*prohibit* making a technical change.)

>     So what divides "egregious practical inconveniences" and "non-free"?
> The practical inconveniences of the GFDL are similar to those Debian
> accepts from other licenses that we agree are free.  They are not
> egregious.

Can you give examples of such terms that we accept from other


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