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Re: Clarifying non-free parts of the GNU FDL

On Tue, 2004-09-21 at 13:09, Roger Leigh wrote:
> The Gimp-Print User's Guide (package gimpprint-doc) is currently
> licensed under the terms of the GNU FDL.
> During discussion with gimp-print upstream about the potential
> problems with the GNU FDL and the possibility of relicensing it, a
> number of issues have cropped up, which I'd be grateful if you could
> assist with.  I have pointed to Manoj's draft position statement as a
> summary of the issues with the FDL found to date, which we have been
> discussing.
> If the documentation was to remain GFDL licenced, would be possible to
> add a clarification to the licence in order to counter the main
> problems which would affect this work?  The work is written in
> Docbook/SGML, and contains no invariant sections.

I assume by "no invariant sections" you also mean no cover texts,
acknowledgements, or dedications.

> Specifically, would it be possible to
> 1) Allow storage/transmission on encrypted filesystems/links to
>    counter the "DRM restriction"?
> 2) Not require forcing distribution of transparent copies with bulk
>    opaque copies?
> If these clarifications were to be made, would the licence be
> considered DFSG-free?  Are there any other possible amendments that
> could be made to make the licence DFSG-free?

Tentatively, I would say yes, this is free. Tentatively because I
stopped paying too much attention to the specifics of the FDL after no
one at the FSF seemed interested in resolving the more serious problems.
Similar to how we only discovered the DRM issues after being hung up on
invariants for a while, there might be some more nasty clauses hiding in
the license that no one has noticed yet (especially given the complexity
of it).

However, this license is still not GPL-compatible, meaning text can't
easily be moved from GIMP-Print itself (or other printing programs) into
the documentation and vice versa.

> Lastly, are there any alternative licences available?  The author (and
> copyright holder) of the work would prefer a licence suited to
> documentation rather than programs (which I don't disagree with).

I'm preparing a large amount of DocBook released under the GNU GPL, with
the following notice:

  This document is licensed under the GNU General Public License version
  2 as published by the Free Software Foundation. References to "object
  code" and "executables" in the GNU GPL are to be interpreted as the
  output of any document formatting or typesetting system, including
  intermediate and printed output.

This license is GPL-compatible in both directions, and I don't see that
it presents any serious problems just because I'm applying it to a
"non-program". Any license that tries to cater to some specifics of
non-programs results in problems when you try to move text a document to
a program and vice versa, which is a common case in software

If upstream really needs a documentation-specific license, one
possibility is releasing the documentation under a GFDL/GPL dual
license. If the author does this, then we don't even need exceptions to
the GFDL, because the GPL alone is free.
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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