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Re: one of the many reasons why removing non-free is a dumb idea

On Sun, Jan 11, 2004 at 11:44:17PM -0500, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> Craig Sanders (cas@taz.net.au) wrote:
> >This non-free data & documentation can still be used and even modifed by 
> >the end-user, however, 
> Not necessarily legally modified.  In the US you may need a license to 
> modify works even privately; it's legally unclear.

copyrights do not affect the usage of a document, they only affect the right to
copy and distribute.  that's why it's called a "COPYRIGHT", not a "USERIGHT".
what you do with your own legally-obtained copy is your own business.

otherwise, writing in the margins of books or using sticky notes would be

> >and the fact that modified versions can not be redistributed really makes NO
> >PRACTICAL DIFFERENCE to anyone at all.  no one really needs to modify
> >doc-linux-nonfree-text, or povray-doc.....
> This is just too silly a claim to argue with.  Even Stallman, notorious
> supporter of non-free documentation, would disagree.

no, it's not at all a silly claim.

sure, it would be a lot nicer if all documentation were free along with all
software -  but it really makes no pratical difference (as opposed to a
contrived difference where the argument has to have all the pre-conditions set
exactly right to "prove" that it makes a difference).

most users of software, whether it be free or non-free, have no need whatsoever
to modify the documentation.

a handful of developers may find it convenient to have the right to modify
docs, but that's a convenience only - errata sheets and submission of
documentation patches to the author/copyright-holder are adequate.

> >any possible need to modify can easily be worked around with an errata
> >sheet,
> "Any possible need to modify a program can be easily worked around with
> patches."

this does not make something non-free.

we (grudgingly) accept software that can only be modified by patches as
DFSG-free.  it's annoying and it's a hassle, but it still qualifies as free.

why should documentation be held to a higher standard of freeness than

> >or by submitting a change to the authors.
> "Any possible need to modify a program can be handled by submitting a change
> to its authors."

yes, that's certainly non-free.

it can still be *useful*, and (as has been noted before) makes no practical
difference to any real person, outside of contrived examples.

> So this paragraph is complete nonsense, and I won't try to argue with it any
> further, because so many people have already explained why it's totally
> false.

you won't argue with it because you haven't actually thought about it.  you're
just reacting to the evil 'non-free' term.


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