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Re: Clarifying non-free parts of the GNU FDL

On Tue, 2004-09-21 at 15:55, Roger Leigh wrote:
> Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org> writes:
> >> 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).
> OK.  So, if were were to add something along the lines of
>   "As an exception to the GNU FDL, you are permitted to use technical
>   measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of
>   the copies you make or distribute.  The restrictions applied when
>   copying in quantity (clause 3) are likewise exempted."
> would that be sufficient?  Could exempting clause 3 be used to allow
> distributors not to provide source at all (which is not the
> intent--source should be available from the distributor, just not
> /forced/ to be provided whether you want it or not).

Unfortunately, by exempting from that part of clause 2 and all of clause
3, you have removed the (weak) copyleft of the FDL entirely. Anyone
could distribute opaque copies on restricted media and never need to
provide source. The only way around this is to use a different license,
or to rewrite those clauses of the FDL entirely. I *really* don't
recommend that, because it makes the situation even more confusing, and
there may be numerous problems in the rewritten clauses as well.

If you need a copyleft, the GPL remains the strongest, free-est, and
most understood of the ones I am aware of. I would encourage the
manual's author (and everyone else, for that matter) to reconsider the
necessity of a "documentation-only" license; despite numerous claims
that the GPL doesn't work, I've yet to see anyone propose real problems.
Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

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