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Re: The draft Position statement on the GFDL

On Thu, May 06, 2004 at 09:12:05AM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> "Make or distribute" is the biggest problem here.  If it said "make and
> distribute", you might be correct.  As it is actually written, it requires
> that you not place specific technical obstacles in the way of people
> reading or making copies of the copy you *make*, even if you don't
> distribute it at all.

Except, this is a copyright, and only capable of restricting things
copyrights can grant permission on.

It needs to be read with that in mind.

> >From Manoj's draft postion statement:
> Matthew Garrett Notes:
>  Awkward. Even if the Microsoft Word file format was well described, it
> would not be modifiable in a "generic text editor". The GPL requires
> distribution of source in "The preferred format for modification" - the
> GFDL limits what that preferred form may be. The lack of definition of
> "copy" here makes things unclear - if my only source is a formatted Word
> document, does a plain text output of the contents qualify as a transparent
> version? Without clarification, this may prevent certain types of
> derivative work being produced, which would be a violation of DFSG 3. 

I don't see the problem here -- this seems to be an objection that the
GFDL shouldn't be used in some contexts where it's not being used.

If you've created the document in word, don't use the GFDL to license it.
If the document was created in some other format, then it wasn't created
in Word.

In other words: if you want to have new content, put it under a different
license, and if you want the compilation as a whole to be copyrighted
use a compilation copyright which also is not the GFDL.

So why is this a problem?

> This is the serious freeness issue with "Transparent" and "Opaque" formats;
> the overly specified definitions mean that certain types of documents don't
> appear to have any transparent formats (notably word processing files, even
> ones for Free word processors, and sound files of any sort).  Which makes
> it impossible to make certain kinds of derivative works.  :-P

Well, it's true that you can't produce DRM derived works -- that's pretty
much the point.

However, if you wanted to produce a word document which embedded some
GFDL content, it's probably worth noting that word offers a superset of
html, and html lets you put things in iframes.

If your objection is that someone could create a restricted capability
format which would not allow this kind of compilation, that's also true,
and I think that's about as noteworthy as the "content licensed under the
GPL cannot be combined with content licensed under the TeX license" issue.

That's not a problem that we have made any consistent effort to solve.

> Well, it allows some derived works, but not all.  Generally clause 3 has
> been interpreted to mean that the license must allow derived works in
> *general*, not merely certain derived works.

But we don't really do that.

Or maybe it is legal for me to combine incorporate metafont code into gcc?

> Interpreting it to allow licenses to contain arbitrary restrictions on what
> derived works are permitted would open up loopholes the size of whales. 
> For a quick example, it would immediately allow Sun's Java into main; it
> would allow all those other licenses which only permit conformant
> implementations; it would allow licenses which permitted derivative works
> to be made only for purposes of porting; etc.

I don't see that this needs to be that general.

> However, requiring that all derived works have a huge honking hunk of
> unmodifiable text in the middle of them, with a specific title, listed in
> the table of contents, untranslated, does not seem to be a reasonable
> restriction!

A key point here is that if the works are programs, DFSG#4 is relevant.


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