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Re: (end of) Development and documentation in Debian

On Mon, Oct 02, 2006 at 06:34:24PM +0300, Andrei Popescu wrote:
> Tyler Smith <tyler.smith@mail.mcgill.ca> wrote:
> > This has been getting increasingly aggravating for me, as I find more 
> > and more of the documentation is either stowed out of sight in 
> > non-free, or has actually been put in some sort of package purgatory 
> > while someone decides what to do with it (ie. the elisp docs, which are 
> > currently not in etch, although I did find them in unstable).
> This has probably nothing to do with license.
> > I do understand the motivation behind the DFSG, but should we be 
> > considering everything that is stored in digital format to be software? 
> > I believe free software, by Debian or FSF definition, is a good and 
> > necessary thing. However, I don't have a problem with the author of a 
> > document file requiring the preservation of invariant sections. It's 
> > not clear to me how this is an infringment on my rights as a user. Do 
> > we need to hold documentation to the same standards that we use for 
> > programs?
> Imagine someone writing a piece of documentation for a software, but
> after some time stops keeping it up-to-date. Even if someone else wants
> to take over and update it, it might be impossible to do so because of
> the license. So instead of contributing the new writer just gives up,
> because it would mean to rewrite everything. This way the community
> looses twice.

In international copyright law, there are rights belonging to the author 
that he cannot sign away.  These include the right to be considered the 
author.  This means that if the document mentions him as author (perhaps 
on a title page) it is illegal to change that to, say, a different name.
Thus there are restricions on the changes that can be made to a document,
even if he chooses to allow it.  Should we put every document that is 
signed by its author in the nonfree category for this reason?  In 
theory, this would apply to code, too.

Perhaps we need to adjust policy about the meaning of freeness 
when it comes to documentation.  There may be appropriate 
restrictions to allow in documantation, and others to forbid.  
Perhaps a new license is appropriate as a model for future authors, 
perhaps not.  Perhaps new category of repositoris between free and 
nonfree ...

Merely considering reams of documentation to be nonfree is not the 
long-term solution.  We need something positive as well.

- hendrik

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