Re: Amendment: GFDL is compatible with DFSG
On Mon, Jan 23, 2006 at 04:32:09PM +0100, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> If you then remove most of the content from that document so that only
> the relevant bits for a manual page and those secondary sections are
> left behind, then it could very well be that 10% of the resulting text
> is your technical documentation while 90% of your text is that section
> about software freedom.
> At this point, you can no longer reasonably say that the "Document's
> overall subject" is the technical documentation; rather, at that point
> the Document's overall subject will be software freedom.
The overall subject can be software freedom but not necesarily in all
cases and certainly not in the case with the man-page. One can not
use simple quantity calculations in order to determine what the
overall subject of a book is.
I have a book with poetry but the total length of its prefaces is more
than the total length of all poems. I have also a book containing
relatively short medieval story and a very long preface. The titles
of the books are the title of the poetry and the title of the medieval
story and most people who buy these books do not read the prefaces.
In that situation it is very reasonably to say that the "Document's
overal subject" is the poetry and the medieval text and not the
literary analisys from the prefaces. I havent checked how these two
books are classified in the libraries but I am pretty sure that the
libraries will classify these books as a book with poetry and a book
with medieval text disregarding the prefaces.
> > but that is not relevant here, because you don't have to include all
> > invariant sections in every single man-page.
> Does not follow. You have to include them all;
In the specific case for the man-pages I think that the overal subject
of every man-page will be its technical contents, no matter how short
it is and how long the invariant sections we have to include are.
> whether or not you have to include them on every manpage in a given
> package is not relevant.
It would be inconvenient if we had to include all invariant sections
and the text of GFDL in every single man-page. Fortunately, we don't
> > The point is there is no practical difference whether the GNU
> > Manifesto is placed in the preamble of the license or it is placed in
> > an invariant section.
> There is; see also Kalle's reply.
There is no practical difference between the final results, the only
differences are between the methods used to achieve the results. In
both cases the result is that we have to distribute unmodifiable text
with personal opinion. I agree with the Kalle's argument that "this
does not mean that we should accept unmodifiable sections elsewhere in
the works", but the question is why we shouldn't accept? What basic
freedoms of our users we will protect by doing so? What do we want to
achieve by refusing to accept them?
> > Anyway, the GNU project, GNOME, KDE and many other free software
> > developers consider and use GFDL as a free license. Even if there are
> > different definitions of "Free Software" (and "Free Documentation")
> > most of them seem to acknowledge GFDL as free.
> It is not because they think that the FDL is a free license that we have
> to agree.
If they think that something is a free license we have to agree
acording to our social contract ("we will be guided by the needs of
our users and the free software community").
There is however a reason, much more important than our social
contract, why we should agree with them. It is because their opinion
is based on the basis that GFDL does not infringe any of the basic
freedoms for the users as they are described at
So far I haven't seen any solid argument why the invariant sections
make GFDL a non-free license. All we agree the third item of DFSG
does not require arbitrary modifications, all we agree that some
restrictions are admissible. What makes the invariant sections not
admisible? The usual answer is "acording to DFSG the license must
allow modifications". But why would someone accept the restrictions
caused by the Advertising clause and not the restrictions caused by
the invariant sections? I want to have some fundamental principle to
advise me in such cases but the only principle I know about is the
principle to protect the four basic freedoms of our users. Acording
to that principle GFDL is free.
> > Not, at all.
> ... because?
I'm sorry for being too short. I answered in my previous email in the
paragraph next to that.
> > Acording to the licenses this is the choice here:
> > GPL: include CD-ROM or obligate myself to distribute the sources at
> > minimal cost for three years
> > GFDL: include CD-ROM or maintain a website for one year
> First, the GPL says "reasonable", not "minimal".
I don't understand this.
> Second, maintaining a website with the transparent versions of your
> opaque copies in such a way that they are ready for download at any time
> for a whole year sounds like more effort to me than the requirement to
> be able to, somehow, find that patch that you applied somewhere in your
> version control system, and then mail it to someone asking you for it,
> together with a source tarball which you could then download again from
> the project's website of which you used the source.
Thats up to personal opinion. Anyway, its not this requirement what
makes some people think GFDL is non-free.
> > > While the GPL does indeed allow you to offer both and let the user
> > > take whatever he or she wants, the requirement as written in the
> > > GFDL does not allow that. Sure, that's a bug, but the fact that it
> > > is a bug does not make the problem go away.
> > It is not a bug, it is a wrong interpretation of the license.
> However, I do not think that the interpretation that I gave you here is
> inconsistent with the text of the license. As such, it is a valid
> interpretation of the license text and, since it was not intended to be
> the meaning of this license, a bug.
The preposition "along" in the license does not mean "with".
> You cannot undo whatever a judge decided; if this involves fines for
> some party who acted in accord with the license's intend, you cannot
> undo those fines.
> You cannot prevent it from happening to already-existing documents under
> the same license; anyone could use the old version of the document under
> the old terms, and sue you.
> > What I claim is we should not exaggerate the problems. The rules of
> > GFDL are not so unclear to make a real danger for the license to be
> > misinterpreted in a court.
> We clearly disagree here.
> > You are not in violation of the license. You can not control the
> > reading or further copying if you do not allow the reading or further
> > copying to happen.
> Uh, go find a dictionary somewhere. If you do not allow the reading or
> further copying to happen, then you are, effectively, controlling the
> reading or further copying of the document.
My dictionary says the meaning of "control" is "to have power to
direct or restrain; to regulate". You can not control something that
does not exist.
To "control the reading" means to make you able to read the document
today but not tomorow. To "control the further copying" means to make
you unable to give a copy of the document to your friends.