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Re: Bug#207932: Statement that all of Debian needs to be Free?

On 6/17/05, Jérôme Marant <jmarant@free.fr> wrote:
> Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> writes:
> >
> > only "copying.paper" sounds like a license; the rest are simply documents,
> > which must be DFSG-free to be in Debian.  This is not a matter of
> > controversy, or even significant disagreement; SC2004-003 made this
> > explicitly clear.  Please remove these non-free documents; the grace
> > period allowed by SC2004-004 expired with the release of sarge.
> They are out of the scope of the DFSG. They are neither programs nor
> documentation: they are speeches and articles which are logically
> non modifiable without the consent of their author.
> Whether they are around or not is irrelevant to the freeness of Emacs.

IMHO, Jérôme is right but for the wrong reasons.  In many
jurisdictions (especially France, but other parts of US law besides
copyright have similar consequences), copyright license does not and
cannot grant authority to misattribute or violate the integrity of an
artistic or polemical work.  These documents are not part of the "work
of authorship" that is the Emacs program and documentation.  They may
be retained or removed; but they may not be arbitrarily modified.

Personally, I would retain them as a courtesy to upstream; users are
no more and no less free to modify or remove them than Debian is.  The
alternative -- to demand that all content other than license texts and
other legal indicia must be arbitrarily modifiable in order to be
DFSG-free -- is logically consistent but would require the removal of
all remotely "artistic" or "polemical" works in the Debian archive.

The GFDL is another story, because under some circumstances it
purports to condition the permission to modify and redistribute the
substance of the document on the retention of unrelated material. 
Personally, my reasons for objecting to the GFDL are different; but I
just want to make the point that a putative debian-legal (or even
Debian-wide) consensus on the DFSG-freeness of the GFDL has no bearing
on whether it is OK to retain LINUX-GNU et al.

- Michael

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