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Fwd: Final updates for this Python Policy revision


Following recent Python policy updates I wonder if GPL is really the
license of choice for software documentation in Debian? There are many
other licenses available that are more clear to general public, such
as Creative Commons.

The second question may seem strange, but why copyleft license is used?
Does it allow to cite Debian Policy in books without making those
books freely available?

Please, CC.

Original thread:
anatoly t.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: anatoly techtonik <techtonik@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: Final updates for this Python Policy revision
To: Ben Finney <ben+debian@benfinney.id.au>
Cc: debian-python <debian-python@lists.debian.org>, debial-legal

Given that people are tired of discussing things they've already
decided for themselves I CC this to debian-legal.

On Sun, Dec 13, 2009 at 11:11 AM, Ben Finney <ben+debian@benfinney.id.au> wrote:
> The Debian policy is software with source code: the DocBook source document.

It is not clear why GPL notice doesn't stay in the source then and
instead appear in "binary form", but it seems ok.

BTW, where is the link to Debian Python Policy source in
http://www.debian.org/doc/packaging-manuals/python-policy/ ? Shouldn't
it be mentioned in documentation?

>> 1. What am I free to do with with GPL'ed policy text?
> View it, examine its source code, modify it, and/or redistribute it
> under the same license terms.

>From your words it sounds like I can do just anything about it -
remove authors, sign under my name and sell for a big money without
distributing source code. Is that right?

>> 2. Are you sure about that?
> Yes. The GPL grants those freedoms.

>> > What specific problems do you see from choosing the GPL for a work,
>> > and why should those problems concern us in this case?
>> One specific problem is that nobody understands what do you mean when
>> releasing something that is not software under GPL.
> The Debian policy is digital information, therefore it is software (as
> opposed to hardware).
> Perhaps you mean “something that is not a program”.

I mean that "documentation for software" is not software
itself.Software can render documentation or process it. Documentation
can be printed and still remain documentation. Software is not.

>> It can simply be deemed invalid in court and usual copyright rules
>> apply. In this case it can be sought like the freedom authors choose
>> to express their opinions about what did they meant later. You do not
>> license for that.
> I don't know what would lead you to think the GPL would be deemed
> invalid for the Debian policy more than any other software work.

Considering your argument that policy source is DocBook and .html is
"compiled binary software" I am beaten. However, most people won't get
that without lengthy discussion.

>> I still have no idea why Policy authors have chosen GPL
> Perhaps, then, you should not assert they have chosen the GPL blindly.

I still can't see the reasons why they couldn't choose GPL blindly. At
the time when original author was forced to choose license there could
not be other choice. All others are just followed. Now there are many
more clear suitable licenses, that's why I ask. Maybe authors would
like to choose non-copyleft license at all?

> Now, in the absence of a specific problem with applying the GPL to the
> software work that is the Debian policy, I don't think there's any more
> need to call for changing it.

While nobody understands what does it all mean, let's leave it alone. =)

anatoly t.

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