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Re: A possible GFDL compromise


On Sun, Sep 14, 2003 at 02:01:40PM -0700, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Andrew Suffield <asuffield@debian.org> writes:
> > The goal of this part of the GFDL is to force their (non-free) dogma
> > to be distributed along with their manuals (for various reasons of
> > their own, which are no concern of ours). Value judgements on the
> > content do not belong on debian-legal.
> It's like you are *trying* to misunderstand me.
> The goal I am speaking of is the goal is to make sure that everyone
> who gets free software understands the rights they have and the
> importance of free software.  I believe this is a goal that Debian
> also shares.
> > If their ultimate goal is to make sure everybody who gets free
> > software understands what it is, then they're going about it
> > completely the wrong way. Most people who get free software never read
> > the manual.
> You're saying two separate things here.  I agree with both, but they
> should be distinguished.
> Yes, they are choosing a method of getting their goal which is a bad
> way.

But are you supporting the GFDL as a way of getting the message out?
Or do you, like me, see it as a weapon that can be used to distribute
propaganda?  While a document licensed under the GFDL may not contain
any propaganda today, that does not mean that it will not tomorrow.

I noticed that in RMS's response to Mike Hommey today [1] the allocation
that the purpose was to "spread GNU propaganda" was _not_ refuted.  Are
we to conclude that _is_ RMS's/FSF's agenda?

But the RMS/FSF agenda is not the issue here. What is the invariant
parts of a GFDL and to what purpose the could be put as we will not
be allowed to censor it under the terms of the GFDL.

> But for the second, while most people may not read the manual, the
> point isn't to *guarantee* that everyone "hears the message", the goal
> is to *try*.  Increasing the number of hearers is good, even if we
> don't get to everyone.

I do not object to RMS's evangelism on the FSF and the goals for which
it stands, quite the opposite in fact.  Neither do I think that the motd,
the web pages or any other way that Debian promotes "Free" software to
be wrong.

But for Debian to accept the GFDL as an acceptable license will place
it a risk of promoting propaganda for which the majority of its members
do not agree.  It is because of that risk that I council that no
GFDL license document should be included in Debian at all, and any
current documents licensed under it removed, painful though that would

If you think that a bit over the top please consider this:  RMS does
not endorse Debian because of the inclusion of non-free software as 
part of the distribution, even though it is clearly segregated.
If Debian accept the GFDL then it accepts it's terms and goals.  This
includes invariant sections that have a relationship "of [a] legal,
commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position".  I do not
think that it is the purpose of Debian to act as a means by which
other can spread their propaganda.  


[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/debian-legal-200309/msg00624.html
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