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Re: GR Proposal: GFDL statement

On Sun, Jan 01, 2006 at 03:02:04PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
>Bcc'ed to -project, -legal and -private; followups to -vote please.
>It's been six months since the social contract changes that forbid
>non-free documentation went into effect [0], and we're still distributing
>GFDLed stuff in unstable [1]. I think we should get serious about fixing
>that, and as part of that that we should release the following statement
>(or one like it) on the GFDL:
>Why the GNU Free Documentation License is not suitable for Debian main
>(0) Summary
>Within the Debian community there has been a significant amount of concern
>about the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), and whether it is, in
>fact, a "free" license. This document attempts to explain why Debian's
>answer is "no".
>It should be noted that this does not imply any hostility towards the
>Free Software Foundation, and does not mean that GFDL documentation
>should not be considered "free enough" by others, and Debian itself will
>continue distributing GFDL documentation in its "non-free" section.
>(1) What is the GFDL?
>The GFDL is a license written by the Free Software Foundation, who use
>it as a license for their own documentation, and promote it to others. It
>is also used as Wikipedia's license. To quote the GFDL's Preamble:
>  The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook,
>  or other functional and useful document "free" in the sense of
>  freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and
>  redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or
>  noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author
>  and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being
>  considered responsible for modifications made by others.
>  This License is a kind of "copyleft", which means that derivative
>  works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It
>  complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license
>  designed for free software.
>(2) How does it fail to meet Debian's standards for Free Software?
>The GFDL conflicts with traditional requirements for free software in
>a variety of ways, some of which are expanded upon below. As a copyleft
>license, one of the consequences of this is that it is not possible to
>include content from a documention directly into free software under
>the GFDL.
>The major conflicts are:
>(2.1) Invariant Sections
>The most troublesome conflict concerns the class of invariant sections
>that, once included, may not be modified or removed from the documentation
>in future. Modifiability is, however, a fundamental requirement of the
>DFSG, which states:
>    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.
>Invariant sections create particular problems in reusing small portions
>of the work (since any invariant sections must be included also,
>however large), and in making sure the documentation remains accurate
>and relevant.
>(2.2) Transparent Copies
>The second conflict is related to the GFDL's requirements for "transparent
>copies" of documentation (that is, a copy of the documentation in a form
>suitable for editing). In particular, Section 3 of the GFDL requires
>that a transparent copy of the documentation be included with every
>opaque copy distributed, or that a transparent copy is made available
>for a year after the opaque copies are no longer being distributed.
>For free software works, Debian expects that simply providing the source
>(or transparent copy) alongside derivative works will be sufficient,
>but this does not satisfy either clause of the GFDL's requirements.
>(2.3) Digital Rights Management
>The third conflict with the GFDL arises from the measures in Section 2
>that attempt to overcome Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies. In
>particular, the GFDL states that "You may not use technical measures
>to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you
>make or distribute". This inhibits freedom in three ways: it limits use
>of the documentation as well as distribution, by covering all copies
>made, as well as copies distributed; it rules out distributing copies
>on DRM-protected media, even if done in such a way as to give users
>full access to a transparent copy of the work; and, as written, it also
>potentially disallows encrypting the documentation, or even storing it
>on a filesystem that supports permissions.
>(3) Why does documentation need to be Free Software?
>There are a number of obvious differences between programs and
>documentation that often inspire people to ask "why not simply have
>different standards for the two?" For example, books are often written
>by individuals, while programs are written by teams, so proper credit
>for a book might be more important than proper credit for a program.
>On the other hand, free software is often written by a single person,
>and free software documentation is often written by a larger group of
>contributors.  And the line between what is documentation and what is
>a program is not always so clear either, as content from one is often
>needed in the other (to provide online help, to provide screenshots or
>interactive tutorials, to provide a more detailed explanation by quoting
>some of the source code). Similarly, while not all programs demonstrate
>creativity or could be considered "works of art", some can, and trying
>to determine which is the case for all the software in Debian would be
>a distraction from our goals.
>In practice, then, documentation simply isn't different enough to warrant
>different standards: we still wish to provide source code in the same
>manner as for programs, we still wish to be able to modify and reuse
>documentation in other documentation and programs as conveniently as
>possible, and we wish to be able to provide our users with exactly the
>documentation they want, without extraneous materials.
>(4) How can this be fixed?
>What, then, can documentation authors and others do about this?
>An easy first step is to not include the optional invariant sections in
>your documentation, since they are not required by the license, but are
>simply an option open to authors.
>Unfortunately this alone is not enough, as other clauses of the GFDL
>render all GFDL documentation non-free. As a consequence, other licenses
>should be investigated; generally it is probably simplest to choose
>either the GNU General Public License (for a copyleft license) or the
>BSD or MIT licenses (for a non-copyleft license).
>As most GFDL documentation is made available under "the terms of the GNU
>Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published
>by the Free Software Foundation", the Free Software Foundation is able
>to remedy these problems by changing the license. The problems discussed
>above require relatively minor changes to the GFDL -- allowing invariant
>sections to be removed, allowing transparent copies to be made available
>concurrently, and moderating the restrictions on technical measures.
>Unfortunately, while members of the Debian Project have been in
>contact with the FSF about these concerns for the past four years,
>these negotiations have not come to any conclusion to date.  
>It's based on Manoj's draft position statement [2] with some notable
>changes (an explicit "why not just say docs != software" section, a
>"how can this be fixed" section, a "what is the GFDL?" section, and
>reordering the major problems). I've put the above draft on the wiki
>[3] so people can tweak it.
>[0] http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2005/06/msg00019.html
>[1] http://bugs.debian.org/usertag:debian-release@lists.debian.org:gfdl
>[2] http://people.debian.org/~srivasta/Position_Statement.html
>[3] http://wiki.debian.org/GFDLPositionStatement


Aníbal Monsalve Salazar
 .''`. Debian GNU/Linux
: :' : Free Operating System
`. `'  http://debian.org/
  `-   http://v7w.com/anibal

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