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Re: Amendment: GFDL is compatible with DFSG



FWIW, I second the amendment quoted below.

Anton Zinoviev <zinoviev@debian.org> writes:

> GNU Free Documentation License protects the freedom,
> it is compatible with Debian Free Software Guidelines
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

> (0) Summary

> This is the position of Debian Project about the GNU Free
> Documentation License as published by the Free Software Foundation:

>    We consider that works licensed under GNU Free Documentation
>    License version 1.2 do fully comply both with the requirements and
>    the spirit of Debian Free Software Guidelines.

> Within Debian community there has been a significant amount of
> uncertainty 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 "yes".

> (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) The Invariant Sections - Main Objection Against GFDL

> One of the most widespread objections against GFDL is that GFDL
> permits works covered under it to include certain sections, designated
> as "invariant".  The text inside such sections can not be changed or
> removed from the work in future.

> GFDL places considerable constraints on the purpose of texts that can
> be included in an invariant section.  According to GFDL all invariant
> sections must be also "secondary sections", i.e. they meet the
> following definition

>    A "Secondary Section" is a named appendix or a front-matter section
>    of the Document that deals exclusively with the relationship of the
>    publishers or authors of the Document to the Document's overall
>    subject (or to related matters) and contains nothing that could
>    fall directly within that overall subject. [...]  The relationship
>    could be a matter of historical connection with the subject or with
>    related matters, or of legal, commercial, philosophical, ethical or
>    political position regarding them.

> Consequently the secondary sections (and in particular the invariant
> sections) are allowed to include only personal position of the authors
> or the publishers to some subject.  It is useless and unethical to
> modify somebody else's personal position; in some cases this is even
> illegal.  For such texts Richard Stallman (the founder of the Free
> Software Movement and the GNU project and author of GFDL) says [1]:

>    The whole point of those works is that they tell you what somebody
>    thinks or what somebody saw or what somebody believes. To modify
>    them is to misrepresent the authors; so modifying these works is
>    not a socially useful activity. And so verbatim copying is the only
>    thing that people really need to be allowed to do.

> This feature of GFDL can be opposed to the following requirement of
> Debian Free Software Guidelines:

>    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.

> It is naive to think that in order to fulfil this requirement of DFSG
> the free licenses have to permit arbitrary modifications.  There are
> several licenses that Debian has always acknowledged as free that
> impose some limitations on the permitted modifications.  For example
> the GNU General Public License contains the following clause:

>    If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when
>    run, you must cause it, when started running for such interactive
>    use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an announcement
>    including an appropriate copyright notice and a notice that there
>    is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide a warranty) and
>    that users may redistribute the program under these conditions, and
>    telling the user how to view a copy of this License.

> The licenses that contain the so called "advertising clause" give us
> another example:

>    All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this
>    software must display the following acknowledgement: "This product
>    includes software developed by ..."

> Consequently when judging whether some license is free or not, one has
> to take into account what kind of restrictions are imposed and how
> these restrictions fit to the Social Contract of Debian:

>    4. Our priorities are our users and free software

>    We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free software
>    community.  We will place their interests first in our priorities.

> Currently GFDL is a license acknowledged as free by the great mass of
> the members of the free software community and as a result it is used
> for the documentation of great part of the currently available free
> programs.  If Debian decided that GFDL is not free, this would mean
> that Debian attempted to impose on the free software community
> alternative meaning of "free software", effectively violating its
> Social Contract with the free software community.

> We should be able to improve the free software and to adapt it to
> certain needs and this stays behind the requirement of DFSG for
> modifiability.  GFDL allows everybody who disagrees with a personal
> position expressed in an invariant section to add their own secondary
> section and to describe their objections or additions.  This is a
> reasonable method to improve the available secondary sections, a
> method that does not lead to misrepresenting the authors opinion or to
> censorship.

> (3) Transparent copies

> Another objections against GFDL is that according to GFDL it is not
> enough to just put a transparent copy of a document alongside with the
> opaque version when you are distributing it (which is all that you
> need to do for sources under the GPL, for example). Instead, the GFDL
> insists that you must somehow include a machine-readable Transparent
> copy (i.e., not allow the opaque form to be downloaded without the
> transparent form) or keep the transparent form available for download
> at a publicly accessible location for one year after the last
> distribution of the opaque form.

> The following is what the license says (the capitalisations are not
> from the original license):

>    You must either include a machine-readable Transparent copy ALONG
>    with each Opaque copy, or state IN OR WITH each Opaque copy a
>    computer-network location from which the general network-using
>    public has access to download using public-standard network
>    protocols a complete Transparent copy of the Document, free of
>    added material.

> Consequently the license requires distribution of the transparent form
> ALONG with each opaque copy but not IN OR WITH each opaque copy.  It
> is a fact confirmed by Richard Stallman, author of GFDL, and testified
> by the common practice, that as long as you make the source and
> binaries available so that the users can see what's available and take
> what they want, you have done what is required of you.  It is up to
> the user whether to download the transparent form.

> If the transparent copy is not distributed along with the opaque copy
> then one must take reasonably prudent steps to ensure that the
> Transparent copy will remain accessible from Internet at a stated
> location until at least one year.  In these curcumstances the
> requirement of GPL appears to be even more severe - a written offer,
> valid for at least three years, to give any third party a complete
> machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code.

> (4) Digital Rights Management

> The third objection against GFDL arises from the measures in Section 2
> that attempt to overcome Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies.
> According to some interpretations of the license, 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 file system that supports
> permissions.

> In fact, the license says only this:

>    You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the
>    reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute

> This clause disallows the distribution or storage of copies on
> DRM-protected media only if a result of that action will be that the
> reading or further copying of the copies is obstructed or controlled.
> It is not supposed to refer the use of encryption or file access
> control on your own copy.

> Consequently the measures of the license against the DRM technologies
> are only a way to ensure that the users are able to exercise the
> rights they should have according to the license.  Because of that,
> these measures serve similar purpose to the measures taken in the GNU
> General Public License against the patents:

>    If a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of
>    the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly
>    through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this
>    License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the
>    Program.

> We do not think that this requirement of GPL makes GPL covered
> programs non-free even though it can potentially make a GPL-covered
> program undistributable.  Its purpose is against misuse of patents.
> Similarly, we do not think that GFDL covered documentation is non-free
> because of the measures taken in the license against misuse of
> DRM-protected media.

> [1] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/copyright-and-globalization.html
> [2] http://www.gnu.org/doc/gnupresspub.html

-- 
  ,''`.
 : :' :        Romain Francoise <rfrancoise@debian.org>
 `. `'         http://people.debian.org/~rfrancoise/
   `-

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