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Re: GFDL Freeness Question

On Thu, 2003-05-01 at 21:19, Michael D. Crawford wrote:
> I have some articles on the general topic of software quality at:
> http://linuxquality.sunsite.dk/articles/
> They are all under the GNU Free Documentation License, version 1.1.
> I would like these articles to be included in Linux distributions.  But in light 
> of the recent controversy over the non-freeness of GFDL docs with invariant 
> sections, I would like your opinion on whether the way I apply the GFDL would 
> make Debian consider them non-free enough to refuse consideration.  (This is 
> quite a different question from whether Debian would consider the articles worth 
> including because of their content.)
> I don't have any invariant sections in any of them, but each of them specifies a 
> brief back cover text:
> "This contains material from the Linux Quality Database at 
> http://linuxquality.sunsite.dk";.
> Is that a problem?
> Also, while I have your attention, I would also like to say that I would welcome 
> any translations of these articles to other languages.  The Open Source 
> Development Lab has already translated the two kernel testing articles to Japanese.
> Thanks for your help.
> Mike
> -- 
> Michael D. Crawford
> GoingWare Inc. - Expert Software Development and Consulting
> http://www.goingware.com
> crawford@goingware.com
>    Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.
>      "I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak
>       out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared,
>       be in doubt, but don't be gagged."
>       -- John J. Chapman, "Make a Bonfire of Your Reputations"
>          http://www.goingware.com/reputation/

My understanding is that credits and the actual license text have been
viewed as reasonable "invariant" aspects - of code under the GPL and
LGPL and text under the GFDL.

<Canadian style rant (if topic=hockey then temp=high else temp=low

As someone that is published for my writing, rather than for being a
retired coder, I have some difficulties with the GFDL, but no ideas of
how to fix it for DFSG compliance. As I read the GFDL, it allows people
to deliberately introduce inaccuracies, or outright lies. That is in
fact DFSG compliant by my understanding. I could see SCO re-releasing
histories of Linux "updated" in respect of their lawsuit. I could see
Microsoft issuing a full GFDL'ed collection of FUD-filled versions of
LDP documentation.

Maybe my outlook is heavily influenced by my time as a journalist - it
was not uncommon to draw on reports and notes of other writers, distill
some text, send it through copy desks, re-write, fact checkers, layout
editors and finally onto the actual page, only to have another run
through with another reporter and updated information for the next
edition of the paper. Having done all of those jobs, I know that while
the original reporter that compiles the article is the one credited, it
is very much an ongoing team effort, with content always evolving, but
always in the pursuit of accuracy and current relevance.

Maybe a statement of that approach needs to be the basis of a license -
invariance restricted to credit for those who do significant work, and
the pursuit of relevant utility and accuracy being the primary
requirement for any adjustments. Yes, that is "theoretically"
restricting what can be done with the text, but only to preferring
constructive contributions, and honest attributions of sources. Maybe
that is the direction that the GFDL should have gone, rather than trying
to treat text as an abstraction of software.

</Canadian style rant>
ML Kahnt New Markets Consulting
Tel: (613) 531-8684 / (613) 539-0935
Email: kahnt@hosehead.dyndns.org

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