The draft Position statement on the GFDL
Raul miller posted this mail on debian-private, with an
explicit permission to quote it elsewhere. I am doing so now.
On Tue, Apr 27, 2004 at 05:24:15PM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> Can you refute the hard facts found on
I see several topics there:
One question here, is what does "control copying" mean? In a very general
sense, making a copy is controlling a copy, and likewise not making a copy
is controlling a copy. Therefore, any technical means of controlling
copies (such as having the gnu "cp" command installed on your system)
could be seen as violating the GFDL.
However, on re-reading the license, I see that the clause in question
"obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies
you make or distribute"
In other words, clause isn't about copying, but about "further copying".
I believe this indicates that once you've given a copy to someone else,
you've not placed specific technical obstacles in the way of them making
copies. In other words, once distributed, the distributor has given up
legal control of the copy.
I'm fairly confident the phrase "technical measures to obstruct or
control" refers to the concept of having a legal right to obstruct
control the reading or copying of the document after distribution.
More specifically, since the GFDL is a legal document, the primary
effect of this clause is to deny someone the right, in court, of claiming
someone else has subverted the barriers they placed on copying.
I don't see that this is a problem in the context of the DFSG. If it is,
could you spell it out more clearly?
Alternatively, if you think I've mis-interpreted this section of the
license, could you spell out the interpretation you're seeing in some
fashion [which isn't self contradictory]?
Transparent and Opaque Copies
Again, I don't see that this is a problem in the context of the DFSG.
I see that the restrictions are different from GPL restrictions, but
the DFSG does not require all licenses be GPL compatible.
We already have this "incompatible license" issue in other contexts.
I agree the GFDL's invariant sections are troublesome. However,
redistribution of derived works are allowed, so Clause 3 of the DFSG
isn't the issue.
Clause 4 might be a problem, but there is no specific place where a
change is disallowed in the source code. The requirement that the
resulting text be unchanged is probably the key sticking point.
There are a number of arguments in this position statement about problems
which could arise -- these might be arguments that Clause 3 of the DFSG
is too permissive (allows licenses which prevent us from distribution or
maintainence under some circumstance). These points might also justify
placing an additional clause into the DFSG ("If a license prevents us
from distributing a correct version of its software then we will not
distribute it."), but these points are not GFDL specific -- and aer more
a problem in the sense that the DFSG allows the GFDL than anything else.
All of these points (especially the "reference card" issue) can be seen
as good reasons for providing alternate documentation (not GFDL licensed).
The current DFSG does not prohibit bloat. Bloat is something which we
Finally, I'm a bit dubious about the Dissident Test in this context.
If someone doesn't want to be listed as an author, they might simply
invent an entity or some surrogate name and list this entity as
the responsible party. [Similarly, if some crazy government imposes
penalties on people who distribute documents containing the letter "e",
this is a problem in that government, not a problem in Debian.]
Freedoms For Documentation
These look like worthwhile goals, but do not look like DFSG issues.
Conclusion: a number of the points in the position statement look like
they could be real problems in a number of circumstances, but few of them
(if any) are DFSG issues.
Disclaimer: anyone may quote this message outside of debian-private
(for example, on debian-legal). However, please do not mis-represent
me as having said something which I have not.
I hear what you're saying but I just don't care.Manoj Srivastava <firstname.lastname@example.org> <http://www.debian.org/%7Esrivasta/>
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