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Re: A WDL.

On Fri, Sep 12, 2003 at 08:23:23PM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> Thoughts on WDL:
> Is "opiniated" really a word or a smelling pistake?  There's probably 
> some better name.

Agreed, but "opiniated" was the best I could come up with. In any case,
since it can be modified, "invariant" surely is a bad name.

It's been brought to my attention, however, that 'opiniated' is a
strange construct in the English language, and that 'opinionated' would
be better. I'm not a native English speaker; I'll leave that to the
experts. What's important is the definition, not the wording, so if
someone comes up with a word that better defines what these sections do,
I'll happily use that word.

> They also don't seem to meet FSF's requirements.  

I don't know. Perhaps. At least there's no harm in trying.

> The labelling requirements for removed sections seem nasty too, adding 
> more unmodifiable parts to the document.

They're just one line. That's a hell of a lot less than an entire "GNU
Manifesto", for shouting out loud.

I agree that it is a restriction, but I could not *entirely* drop the
Invariant sections from this license -- at least not if I would want a
slight chance for the FSF to accept it.

These 'opiniated' (or 'opinionated', if you want) sections allow for
modification (which should make it DFSG-free), but (intentionally)
require you to jump through a number of hoops, so that they cannot be
dropped in a whim (so that it could still be used to distribute
propaganda, if required). The idea is that you'd want to sent a message
to someone interested in modifying the information, saying, "You're
allowed to modify this part of the text if you really want to, but you
shouldn't do that unless you have a *very* good reason for it."

RMS called the Invariant sections "a practical inconvenience, which does
not make the FDL non-free." I disagree, and I think a lot of people on
this list do as well; but I'd like to hope that that description does
apply to these 'opiniated' sections.

> I still don't like the labelling requirements (cover texts) but that's 
> just a dislike.  Embedding them in the unmodifiable licence notice 
> feels sneaky.  Are they legal notice or really part of the work?

They're part of the work, but they have a special status in the license.
Technically, I could require them to be marked the same way as the
opiniated sections, but since they're so short, I think that's pretty

> I don't understand "substance and tone" if it is modifiable.

That's literally taken from the FDL. The idea is, AAUI, that you have to
retain any acknowledgements and/or dedications, but that you can
rephrase or translate them, if required.

I think this is nearing the edge, but have kept it, to keep the
discussion open.

> Replacement "Opaque" definition also seems a bit wooly and arguable.

Yes, I've said that in my explanation.

The problem is that this is a translation of a definition of 'Free
Specification', as defined by the group behind openstandaarden.be -- a
definition written in the Dutch language. This definition says that a
file format or transport protocol should be freely (as in beer)
available on the Internet, containing enough information to write a
conforming application to be an 'open specification', and that it also
should not be patent-encumbered, license-protected, or be protected
under other legal restrictions to be a 'free specification'.
Openstandaarden.be goes on to define the 'open standard', which is a
free specification backed by a standards-body, but I wasn't sure whether
that would be required for the purpose of a documentation license.

I hope this explains what I tried to do there, but I couldn't find a
clear enough wording to use in that paragraph. What an "Opaque" format
is, should be easy: everything which is not Transparent, is Opaque.

> A few other errors a spellcheck should correct for you.

<hits himself>

Right. I *knew* I was forgetting something when I mailed it.

I'll do that tomorrow, though. Way too tired to concentrate on that
right now :)

> What copyright is the FDL under and is the WDL allowed to contain so 
> much of it?

Branden brought that up as well. I just sent a mail to the FSF,
requesting permission. I do not anticipate any problem, but will remove
both texts from my website should the FSF not give permission.

Wouter Verhelst
Debian GNU/Linux -- http://www.debian.org
Nederlandstalige Linux-documentatie -- http://nl.linux.org
"Stop breathing down my neck." "My breathing is merely a simulation."
"So is my neck, stop it anyway!"
  -- Voyager's EMH versus the Prometheus' EMH, stardate 51462.

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