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

Craig Sanders wrote:
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.
Yes, well, that's technically true. Unfortunately modifying a work on a computer involves copying it.

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

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.
Or the software.

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

"Any possible need to modify a program can be easily worked around with

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.
OK, that's an acceptable claim. However, we require explicit permission to modify in patch form, because the patches may (though they may not) be considered a derivative of the original.

why should documentation be held to a higher standard of freeness than
We should require explicit permission to modify in patch form, as noted above. We don't have that for a lot of documentation. Not a higher standard.

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 you're saying that it makes no practical difference to programs whether modified versions can be freely redistributed. I think you're totally wrong, and I'd daresay nearly everyone in the free software movement agrees with me. I guess you're *consistent*. But what does your strange view on this have to do with Debian, which states in the Debian Free Software Guidelines that the entire project as a whole disagrees with you?

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

you won't argue with it because you haven't actually thought about it.  you're
just reacting to the evil 'non-free' term.
No. Perhaps you haven't thought about the implications of what you said. You have now said that whether software allows free redistribution of modified copies "(as has been noted before) makes no practical difference to any real person, outside of contrived examples." Of course, you offered no evidence for this sweeping and false statement. It makes a practical difference to me. I am a real person. Therefore, you are wrong. Q.E.D.

BTW, please notice that I'm against removing non-free. I don't think bogus unsupported claims that some of the freedoms Debian requires "make no practical difference to any real person" help my case!

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