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Re: GR Proposal: GFDL statement

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Kalle Kivimaa <killer@debian.org> writes:
> Proposal below seconded.

It seems that my Gnus settings do not work correctly for most people
(including devotee), if I try to send out GPG'd ISO-8859-1 emails.
This should be verifiable by all.

Seconding the proposal below.

>> =========================================================================
>> Why the GNU Free Documentation License is not suitable for Debian main
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Context
>> -------
>> 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 that it is not free enough for the Debian distribution.
>> 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. Debian itself will
>> continue distributing GFDL documentation in its "non-free" section,
>> which does not have such strict requirements.
>> This document covers the GFDL version 1.2, which is the most current
>> version at the time of writing. Earlier versions of the GFDL have similar,
>> related problems.  
>> 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. Notably, it is also used as Wikipedia's license. The GFDL is a
>> "copyleft" license in that modifications to documentation made under the
>> GFDL must in turn be released under the GFDL, not some more restrictive
>> license.  
>> How does the GFDL fail to meet Debian's standards for Free Software?
>> --------------------------------------------------------------------
>> The GFDL conflicts with Debian's 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 GFDL documentation directly into free
>> software.
>> The major conflicts are:
>>   Unmodifiable Sections
>>   ---------------------
>> The most troublesome conflict concerns the class of unmodifiable sections
>> that, once included, may not be modified or removed from the documentation
>> in the future. These are Cover Texts, Dedications, Acknowledgements,
>> and Invariant Sections. Modifiability is 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.
>> These components create particular problems in reusing small portions of
>> the work (since any invariant sections must be included also, however
>> large), and in making sure that documentation remains accurate and
>> relevant.  
>>   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 be 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,
>> and that users need not be forced to obtain the source with every copy
>> of the binary they download, but this does not satisfy either clause of
>> the GFDL's requirements.  
>>   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 system that provides user restrictions or file permissions for
>> the documentation.
>> Why does documentation need to be Free Software?
>> ------------------------------------------------
>> The question of "Why does software need free documentation?" has been
>> addressed in the past by the Free Software Foundation in the essay
>> _Free Software and Free Manuals_ [0].
>> [0] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-doc.html
>> 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. Even the line between what is documentation and what is
>> a program is not always so clear, as content from one is often needed
>> in the other (to provide online help, or to provide screenshots or
>> interactive tutorials, or 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, particularly for Debian's purposes, documentation
>> simply isn't different enough to warrant different standards in the
>> freedoms we expect for our users: we still wish to provide source code
>> in the same manner as for programs, we still wish to be able to modify
>> and update documentation, we still wish to be able to reuse portions of
>> documentation elsewhere as conveniently as possible, and we still wish
>> to be able to provide our users with exactly the documentation they want,
>> without extraneous materials.  
>> How can this be fixed?
>> ----------------------
>> What, then, can documentation authors and others do about this?
>> An easy first step documentation authors can take toward resolving
>> the problems above is to not include any 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 unsuitable for Debian. As a consequence,
>> other licenses should be investigated; generally it is probably simplest
>> to use the same license for the documentation as for the software it
>> documents, or for documentation that doesn't come with a particular
>> piece of software, to choose either the GNU General Public License
>> (for a copyleft license) or one of 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 for a great many works by issuing a new version
>> of 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
>> since 2001, these negotiations have not come to any conclusion to date.
>> =========================================================================
>> Cheers,
>> aj
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