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Re: Acceptability of a documentation license for Debian

On Tue, 31 Aug 2021 08:28:45 +0200 Tobias Frost wrote:

> On Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 02:43:34PM -0400, Jeffrey H. Johnson wrote:
> > 5. As state above, there is concern at the phrasing of "the Software" as
> > used in these licenses (such as zlib), when applied strictly to
> > documentation. We do not want misunderstandings or confusion that the
> > documentation is the simulator software, bundled utilities that the
> > documentation describes but are differently licensed, etc.  I do
> > understand there are subtleties as to exactly what is documentation and
> > what is not, and the licenses such as zlib further exacerbate this issue
> > by making an implied distinction between the documentation and the
> > software, for example:  "Permission is granted to anyone to use this
> > software ..." and later "an acknowledgment in the product documentation
> > would be appreciated".  This is especially confusing when the
> > documentation IS 'the software', and provides room for argument over the
> > resulting compiled documentation output (PDF, etc.).
> Regarding Documentation and Software.
> I've put some FreeCAD files under the GPL and had the same concern that some
> work / 3d model might not be covered.  I've solved this for me by writing "For
> the avoidance of doubt, "program" can be replaced with "work" in the license
> grant above." below the GPL boilerplate in the README. Dont know if that
> is legally watertight, but in conveys what I want to archieve.

I don't think that's really needed, since the GNU GPL v2 already
explicitly states in its very text:

|   0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains
| a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
| under the terms of this General Public License.  The "Program", below,
| refers to any such program or work

Similarly the GNU GPL v3 states:

|   "The Program" refers to any copyrightable work licensed under this
| License.

In other words, when the GPL says "Program", it means any work to which
the license is applied, not necessarily an executable program.

Anyway, since many people tend to not read the license text, or not do
so carefully enough, I understand the reason why you felt the need to
add the above clarification in the README...

Oh, and by the way, thanks a lot for licensing 3d models under the GNU
GPL! I wish more people chose really DFSG-free terms (such as GPL or
Expat or zlib or 3-clause BSD) for 3d models!

Back to Jeffrey's concerns, though.

I do not think that the zlib license text is especially confusing with
respect to the software / program / documentation terminology.

It never says "program", always "software" (which may well be
interpreted in its broadest sense, in my opinion).
The only clause that talks about "documentation" is the first one,
where it talks about the documentation for a potential "product" that
uses the software, not about documentation for the software itself.
And please note that the only part that talks about "documentation" is
not legally binding, it's just a polite request (hence, in case it
turns out to have an unclear meaning, the licensee can always choose to
ignore the request...).

> > 6. Originally, the GFDL was discussed, but it is my understanding the the
> > GFDL is still controversial within Debian, and I would like to avoid the
> > situation where an optional dps8m-docs package would not be eligible for
> > inclusion, because having the simulator available in Debian is a personal
> > goal.  There are also other problems with the GFDL regarding DRM
> > distribution, etc.
> nope, GFDL and DFSG is settled.
> https://wiki.debian.org/DFSGLicenses#Exception
> As long as there are no invariant sections GFDL is acceptable.

Please do not remind me of one of the first big disappointments I had
with the Debian Project...
I personally strongly disagree with the decision made with GR-2006-001.

Even so, the [winning option], despite (sadly) choosing to accept
invariant-less GFDL'd documents in Debian main, ended with the
following consideration:

| 3. Despite the above, GFDL'd documentation is still not free of
| trouble, even for works with no invariant sections: as an example, it
| is incompatible with the major free software licenses, which means
| that GFDL'd text can't be incorporated into free programs.
| For this reason, we encourage documentation authors to license their
| works (or dual-license, together with the GFDL) under the same terms
| as the software they refer to, or any of the traditional free
| software licenses like the GPL or the BSD license.

[winning option]: <https://www.debian.org/vote/2006/vote_001#amendmenttexta>

 There's not a second to spare! To the laboratory!
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
 GnuPG key fpr == CA01 1147 9CD2 EFDF FB82  3925 3E1C 27E1 1F69 BFFE

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