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Re: documentation x executable code

On Wed, Jan 05, 2005 at 12:56:29AM -0500, Glenn Maynard wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 05, 2005 at 04:02:38PM +1100, Craig Sanders wrote:
> > sorry, but that argument is bogus.  convenience is NOT the same as freedom.
> > more to the point, freedom does not require convenience.
> This isn't a matter of convenience.  A "standard" which is explained as
> a set of changes to a previous standard, which itself is a set of changes
> to another, going down a chain of several old documents, is not inconvenient;
> it's completely useless.  

that's still just convenience - in this case, the convenience of not having
to read several prior documents.

btw, usefulness isn't one of the criterion for freedom, either.

> > is more than sufficient reason to be a bit more tolerant about freedom
> > criteria for documents.
> I disagree strongly.  b) is unsufficient, as I've already explained.  a)
> is very weak; the utility of Netscape, back when it was important, was
> very high for a massive number of users, and it was just as weak then.
> c) is very weak; very few people will want to modify anything at all

you're partly right.  both a) and c) are weak, but b) is sufficient (both
convenience and usefulness are not relevant when deciding whether something is
free or not, remember).

a) and c) are definitely too weak for software, but may be good enough for

IMO all three together are, as i said, sufficient reason to be a bit more
tolerant about licensing for documentation.

> > ps: the GPL itself is non-free.  you're not allowed to modify it, so it is
> Actually, this is incorrect.  You can modify the GPL, but you have to remove
> the preamble, and rename it to something other than the "GPL"[1].  However,
> the preamble itself is an invariant text, so the question does apply (even
> though it's been asked and answered many times before--as I suspect you're
> aware).

yes, i was assuming that the reader knew all that.

(similarly, you CAN modify an invariant section - but you can only do so by
adding a new section that subverts or refutes or simply adds to the invariant
section.  i.e. you can make whatever comments you like about it, but you can't
censor the original words.  in other words, modification only by patch - which
is explicitly allowed by the DFSG)

> > non-free.  it must therefore be discarded from debian (or moved to non-free).
> > furthermore, since GPL-licensed software requires that the license be
> > distributed with the software, and we are unable to meet that requirement, all
> > GPL-licensed software must likewise be discarded from debian.
> > 
> > please explain why we should be willing to make an exception for the GPL text,
> > but not for other texts.
> We shouldn't be.  However, there is absolutely no choice but to include the
> text of the GPL; it'd leave us with no operating system.  License texts
> (when detached from an actual work) don't need to be invariant, but as
> many important ones (unfortunately) are, we have no choice.

we do have a choice, even if it's one we don't like or one that doesn't leave
us with a very useful system.  we don't have to distribute GPL licensed
software, there are many other free software licenses to choose from.

> I'm not aware of any other non-free bits of data in Debian with the
> status of "we have absolutely no choice", other than license texts, so
> nothing else

i don't believe that we do have "absolutely no choice".  it might be an
extremely unpalatable choice, but it's still a choice.

> puts Debian in this position. Attempting to use license texts as a
> lever to shove other non-free stuff into Debian is not going to work
> (that's been tried many times already).

that's not what i'm trying to do.  i don't want non-free stuff in debian.

i just want people to stop being hypocritically pedantic about the GFDL, and i
want people to stop manipulating debian into blackmailing the FSF over this
stupid issue.

GFDL docs *are* free, except in the minds of wannabe-Holier-Than-Stallman
zealots, and even they can't come up with any *credible* arguments why it
should be considered non-free.  the best they can do is come up with ludicrous
hypotheticals that "prove" that it is possible to misuse/misapply the GFDL (or
any license) in such a way that it invalidates the license, making that one
particular work both non-free and non-distributable.

> With everything else, Debian has a choice--and GR 2004-003 shows that Debian
> has, in fact, made that choice: to not include non-free standards documents.

that's not relevant.  nobody has yet proven that GFDL licensed texts are
non-free, and debian has not yet voted on the issue.  claiming that the GFDL
is non-free is not a statement of fact, it is merely a statement of opinion.


craig sanders <cas@taz.net.au>           (part time cyborg)

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