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Re: Amendment: GFDL is compatible with DFSG

On Mon, Jan 23, 2006 at 11:49:04PM +0100, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> > 
> > 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 think you'll find you'll have a hard time convincing anyone that a
> text that consists for 90% of a "secondary section" about free software
> and for 10% of technical documentation that the "overall subject" of
> that text is something technical.

I gave two examples.

> > 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.
> Can we stick to technical documentation?

These examples show that my opinion about "overall subject" can be
confirmed by a more authoritative source, namely the libraries.  Now,
if you think that there is a difference with respect to "overall
subject" between my examples and a short technical documentation with
long non-technical prefaces and apendixes, then you have to give

BTW, I chose these examples because these are books I realy have, not
because I can not imagine technical book that proves the same.

> Still isn't relevant. If you have three very short manpages, or six very
> short manpages, and then one copy of each of the invariant sections, and
> the cumulative length of the invariant sections ends up being larger
> than the cumulative length of the manpages, the question will arise what
> the overall subject is.

Well, if you ask the people that use this man-page they will tell.

> > but the question is why we shouldn't accept [the unmodifiable
> > sections]?  What basic freedoms of our users we will protect by
> > doing so?
> The freedom to modify the text as they see fit.

With respect to that freedom GPL is also non-free.

> Note that you even have the freedom to take a license text and modify
> it, including any preamble such a license text might have.

Not exactly.  The BSD-alike licenses allow you do this but other
licenses state that "everyone is permitted to copy and distribute
verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not

> > 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").
> "To be guided by" does not imply "to blindly follow whatever they say,
> without having our own opinion".

No, it doesn't but in that case there must exist more solid
argumentation than just "we don't agree becase we don't want to".

> Moreover, our definition of Freedom is laid out in the Debian Free
> Software Guidelines.

And DFSG gives us no advise with respect to invariant sections.  I do
not want to write same things two times for you and Antony Towns so I
will give the answer in a separate thread.  Please respond there.

> The relevance of GNU's four basic freedoms is absolutely zero in a
> Debian context.

DFSG are not definitive about the invariant sections (see the separate
thread) so we need another principle to help us decide.

But regardless of that, the relevance of GNU's four basic freedoms is
not zero in a Debian context.  At least some of our developers do not
help Debian just because it is fun.  They do this because by
protecting the users freedoms they are doing the right thing.  It is
wonderful to protect human rights like the free speech but we are
programmers and that is our way.

> I'm not entirely sure I understand you correctly here, so, just for
> clarity: are you saying that everyone agrees that the third item of the
> DFSG does not require arbitrary modifications?

Yes, that is what I am saying.  I will write more in the separate
thread I promised.

> If so, then I would submit that you're wrong. I, for one, understand
> that section to mean exactly that: it does require arbitrary
> modifications.

You already agreed that section does not mean exactly that in your
message on "Mon, 23 Jan 2006 10:28:18 +0100".  Citing: "That, I can
agree with. So let's do that: let's see at what restrictions are
imposed, and whether they would allow me...".

> > all we agree that some restrictions are admissible.  What makes the
> > invariant sections not admisible?
> It imposes a burden on some very useful types of modification, and makes
> others legally impossible.

It does not make the useful types of modification impossible.  I
already demonstrated why we don't have to put all invariant sections
and the full text of GFDL in every single GFDL-covered man-page.

> > > > 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.
> "reasonable" means "you're allowed to ask money for the act of producing
> the source, but you're not allowed to try and scare people away from
> asking the source by setting the price extremely high".
> "minimal" means "you must do your best to make sure the price is as low
> as possible".

I must be missing something - I can't see these words in the licenses.

> The latter would not allow anyone to make some profit out of selling
> CD-ROMs with source; the former does.

GPL says: "for a charge no more than your cost of physically
performing source distribution".  This does not seam to allow making

> To comply with the GPL's source requirement (without offering it along
> with the binaries, or without passing on any offer you already
> received), it suffices to take out a piece of paper, scribble an offer
> on that for source until some date at least three years into the future,
> and sign it (and to make sure you'll be able to actually get that
> source, should anyone ever choose to excercise their rights -- but you
> can deal with that if it is ever necessary). Total time required to
> comply with the GPL: 45 seconds.

If you are speaking for you or me then I agree.  This is the time that
we need.  However for a firm the burden is much more - if someone
requests the sources after 35 months then the firm must be prepared to
extract the sources from its archive, to write them on CD, to pack the
CD and to send the CD by parcel post.  Thats why most firms that sell
GPL-covered software do not take advantage of that option and they
always sell the software together with the sources.

> To comply with the GFDL's transparent copy requirement, you must have a
> website large enough to hold the full transparent copy to the document,
> and pay the bills for that webspace for at least a year. Total time
> required to comply: impossible to say. Not everyone is a geek with their
> own webserver; some people have a 20MB quota on their ISP's webserver.
> Having to use 5MB for a transparent copy of a document which they just
> printed out for a friend isn't very interesting. Having to pay some tens
> of euros per month for a whole year for webspace at a commercial hoster
> just so you'll be able to legally distribute a printed copy isn't much
> better.

Acording to GFDL you don't have do anything if you just printed out
the document for your friend.  You have to take some actions only if
you publish or distribute more than 100 printed copies of one

If you realy want to distribute more than 100 printed copies of one
document and it is a burden for you to have some webspace, then you
can offer the sources on CD together with the printed copies.

> > The preposition "along" in the license does not mean "with".
> 'along with'...

OK. Let's check again the dictionary.  Acording to it the "along" from
the license should mean "in company, in addition" (the other meanings
are not applicable).  So this is what the license says: "include a
machine-readable Transparent copy in addition with each Opaque copy".
If you include the transparent copy in the web-server in addition to
the opaque copy, then you are ready with the requirements of GFDL.

> > > > 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.
> It also means you try to 'direct or restrain' anyone who tries to make a
> copy of your version. If you use technical measures to make the act of
> making copies impossible, you 'control the further copying'.

It would be possible to interpret the license that way if the text was
"you may not use technical measures to obstruct or control how someone
reads or further copyes...".  If I do not allow you to read some text
written on sheet of paper then I am controlling you, not your reading
(there is no reading to control).  If I show you the text but I hide
it before you completed the reading then I am controlling both you and
your reading.

> If you chmod -r a file, you are use technical measures to make the act
> of making copies impossible.

So there exists no act I can control.

Anton Zinoviev

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