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Re: A possible GFDL compromise: a proposal

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

>     I would appreciate if in future you would restrict you comments
>     to the need for the Invariant sections within the GFDL.
> The issue at hand for Debian is whether to include GFDL-covered
> manuals in the Debian GNU/Linux system.  I am sticking to that
> issue.

Under the current GFDL 1.2, with the anti-DRM clause, there is
essentially no chance of that.  So the real issue at hand is the
future evolution of the GFDL, and whether it can get to a point where
the FSF if happy with its purpose and Debian is happy with its

And that disconnection between purpose and methods really is what this
is about: the FSF is concerned about getting to a state where all
computer programs are free, and is willing to restrict freedoms in the
interim to get there.  Debian is concerned about acting in a free
manner itself, ensuring its users have Free Software, and figuring
everybody will eventually come along.

If offered GFDL'd software which came with an Invariant section on the
evils of free software and the virtues of Shared Source, Debian would
reject it.  It is a violation of Debian's principles to distribute
your invariant sections solely because they come from the FSF or
because they express opinions we may like.  This appears not to be
even a practical impediment to political communication.  You will
observe, for example, that Debian is among the most well-known
GNU/Linux distributions, despite having no advertising budget.  It is
known for quality, for ease of administration, and for freedom -- even
though its political documents, such as the Social Contract and DFSG,
are under licenses which allow derivative works and freedom of
distribution.  Debian haven't even had recommendations from you or the FSF
to get this far.

Given the combination of both this success at distributing political
statements as free software -- with all the same freedoms which are
attached to Emacs or Linux -- and that the FSF apparently has never
tried distributing its political documents in a free way, nobody here
is likely to believe you that it will have bad effects.  From the
experience seen here, no more people will strip your essays than would
anyway, in violation of the license.  It is understandable that you
are afraid to release your essays as free software, because you fear
your competitors will take advantage of this: many companies are
afraid to release their programs as free software, because they fear
their competitors will take advantage.  You've succeeded in convincing
people to risk Freedom by example and by argument in the past -- why
do those examples and arguments not apply to the GFDL?

But now I've drifted off topic.  As far as the GFDL and the DFSG: it
is essentially impossible that Debian will ship anything with an
anti-DRM clause akin to the GFDL.  If it were phrased inclusively as
"You must permit further copying by anyone who can read a copy," that
would be fine.  The exclusive phrasing currently there, which
prohibits any method which inhibits copying, is unacceptably broad and
non-free.  It is similarly the case that Debian is vanishingly
unlikely to distribute invariant political text, excepting only
metadata such as the terms and conditions of licenses for Debian's
software.  To do such would violate Debian's agreement with its users:
that they may freely modify any software their receive for their own use.


Additionally, my last several messages to rms or youpou@gnu.org have
been bounced by mx30.gnu.org.  Is it not on speaking terms with me, or
simply having a bad month?

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