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Re: documentation x executable code

> other things distributed with (and required to be distributed with) free
> software are "secondary" and may be invariant.  e.g. copyright notice and
> license text.

Even if Debian wanted to mandate "licenses may be changed at will" we have
no legal authority in most (? I'm no lawyer) countries to do so (by
default), so I guess I don't see the point of this argument.  It's not up
to the project to decide about this, it's just the way it is.

So is your point the project _could_ decide that only licenses that allow
for license changes should be allowed?  (I.e. we could say 'only BSD style
licensing' and then declare the GPL non-free?  FWIW, I think I understand
that your argument is that this would be ludicrous, but the GFDL issue
follows the same reasoning.)

This might be true but DFSG 3 says:
3. Derived Works

The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow
them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the
original software.

The GPL qualifies for DFSG 3 because of the "same license" verbage.

> > If I'm not supposed to censor or plagarise, then I'm not supposed
> > regardless of the licensing, right?  Right now I can make GPL programs that
> > report the author's name report my name instead.  Yet this doesn't seem to
> > tbe a rampant problem.  Why is documentation different?
> because it's part of the culture that you not do these things.  it's
> certainly unethical, possibly illegal in some jurisdictions, and would
> result in mass protest and censure.  why should it make any difference
> whether these cultural expectations are explicitly spelled out or not?
> you wouldn't get away with doing it either way.
> in short, declaring the GFDL to be non-free because of it is just pedantic
> quibbling of the worst sort.

On the other hand, if there is an expectation that what would be marked
invariant under the GFDL remain invariant even without the clause, then
clause is annoying at best.  The question in my mind is if it also violates
DFSG 3, which it seems to on the face of it.  Unlike you, I don't think
"append-only" patches meet DFSG 4 as per the example in my previous email.
You seemed to agree that they wouldn't in source code; I'm not sure why you
think they are sufficient elsewhere.  (Because these sections are
necessarily inconsequential?)

> i am claiming that they don't matter, same as the fact that you can't change
> the license doesn't matter.

DFSG 3 sets the standard here.
> what i'd like to see is the anti-GFDL zealots defend their position with
> credible argument that the GFDL is non-free, rather than just claim that it
> is.

I think the argument is that invariant sections violate DFSG 3 & 4.  It
seems pretty clear to me as they are currently written. (I'm sure you're
aware of the other issues with the GFDL in addition to invariants, but they
seem to be the most controversial.)
> (BTW, i can see why you mistakenly thought i said that invariant sections
> are necessary for documentation, when what i said was that it was a
> practical necessity for us to ignore them when evaluating software for
> DFSG-freeness)

So if we wanted to spell it out in the DFSG, would there need to be verbage
about the invariant sections that are special cases?  Or is your argument
that they're allowed simply by precedent/common sense or whatever and that
the DFSG need not spell it out?
> but, to answer your question, the practical necessity *for us*
> (i.e. debian) is obvious.  we wouldn't be able to distribute GPL software
> at all if we didn't ignore the fact that the license text is non-free,
> that the software distribution contains invariant section(s).

DFSG 3 only requires the license must allow modifications to be distributed
under the same license, not any license.  The GPL allows this so I don't
think this argument holds.

> NOTE: "section(s)" is plural because copyright notice and license are two
> different things. one is an assertion of copyright. the other is a
> license to use/modify/distribute/etc. so there are at least two things
> that we de-facto accept as being legitimately invariant.

This has been addressed ad-nauseum.

> we also accepted that the GNU Manifesto was *always* required to be
> distributed along with the emacs manual, so there is a third invariant
> section that we have always regarded as being legitimate - this is not
> new since the GFDL, it was always a requirement of the license[1].  this
> has always annoyed some people, but it has always been regarded as not
> important enough to quibble about.  this was the case when we debated and
> wrote the DFSG years ago, and has been the case since, but now some
> zealots are trying to change that and impose their own insane
> interpretation.

I don't think this is a fair representation.  If invariants are allowed, I
think they need to be addressed in the DFSG.  If they're not, they're not.
I don't find this to be "insane" in any way.  Reasonable people can
disagree of course.

Take care,
Dale E. Martin - dale@the-martins.org

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