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Re: A possible GFDL compromise: a proposal


On Sun, Sep 21, 2003 at 09:30:25AM -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
>       It contains detailed
>     mathematicly research on how the improvements were made, details which
>     are not evident in the source and therefore reverse engineering of the
>     documentation from just the source is not possible.  Included in his
>     update to the documentation is an Invariant Section in which he advocates
>     the "Open Source" model as given better freedom to the community than the
>     FSF model.  A position I am sure you disagree with even though you
>     support his freedom to make such a claim.
> I would not much like distributing that, but I would be free to
> distribute that.

Not quite, you are still subject to State and Federal law.  For example,
there are "Export Restriction" that forbid exporting software to some
countries.  I assume that the FSF does not export it's software to Cuba,
Libya, etc.

But what if an Invariant Section was the only part of the document that
fell foul of the law?  The USA has a "Freedom of Information Act" the
UK does not.  The UK does have "the Official Secrets Act".  There 
is, apparently, information that is freely available on US web sites
which can not be mirrored in a UK.

I can understand if you and the FSF are not interested in prompting 
Free Software beyond the boundaries of the United States.  But given
your trips to the UK, and other countries, I assume that you are.  If
a FSF/GNU document contained text in an Invariant Section that was
illegal for a given country or region would you consider removing it?
But even if you or the FSF would do that others may not.

In this light the Invariant Section is not just a "practical 
inconvenience" but is a restriction on the document being distributed.
In order to overcome such restriction all parts of the document must be

As well as the legal issue there are also (the somewhat stronger) moral
or ethical issues should the invariant section contain text to which
one objects.  As section 4 of the Social Contract states Debian "will
place [our users'] interests first in our priorities."  Debian, as a
publisher, have not the same control over the content as the FSF has
as an author.

Debian has accepted that the GPL is a "free" license under it's own
terms.  The only reason for a GPL-ed work not going into the Debian 
system is if it depends upon a non-free work.  I have read statements
from you saying that while you cannot indorse Debian because it
including "non-free" on its FTP servers, you have stated that Debian
gives better considerations to users' rights by separating non-free
software from the Debian System.  As the GFDL allows for text that
is legally, morally or ethically objectionable shouldn't we, Debian,
not mark a GFDL work as different also (given that such material
can not be modified)?

	The sound made by a well bred duck.

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