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Interpretation of the GR

In response to a private mail from Hamish Moffatt, I realized that I did
not make clear my reasoning for some of the things I said in the recent
message "Re: Antique RC bugs (many about licensing)".

Why I read the GR as promoting a "do what I mean" philosophy:

The GFDL says: "You may not use technical measures to obstruct or
control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or
distribute."  (Note that this applies to copies you make and do not

The DFSG are actually supposed to be guidelines (unlike licenses), and
one of the key reasons for that is that they don't enumerate every
possible insane restriction people have come up with.

Is it really DFSG-free to have a license which prohibits placing a copy
you make of the document on an encrypted filesystem?  Applying chmod o-r
to it (on a multiuser system)?  Putting a copy of it in a safe?
All of the above are prohibited by the literal reading of the license.
I've never met anyone who seriously thought a license with such
restrictions should be considered "free".

Adeoato specifically said that his resolution meant (to him) that the
GFDL was not considered to impose such restrictions -- *not* that such
restrictions were free.  Refer to the following message:


So the GR promotes a "do what I mean, not what I say" approach to
license interpretation for the GFDL -- it does *not* claim that the
literal reading of the DRM restriction is free.

Regarding RFCs:

They aren't *explicitly* unmodifiable; it's just that they don't give
*explicit* permission to modify.  Nobody's ever been sued for modifying
an RFC, and they don't seem to want to sue anyone.  So if you follow a
"do what I mean, not what I say" philosophy of license interpretation,
it would seem that modification is permitted.

I still think such a philosophy is an invitation to get in legal
trouble, but it seems to be the preferred choice of the developers.
At least Debian still believes in removing stuff without free licenses
from Debian if the licensors decide to actually enforce their licenses
as written.

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