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Re: The invariant sections are not forbidden by DFSG

On Tue, Jan 31, 2006 at 02:37:18PM +0100, Frank Küster wrote:
> We are not talking about software licenses here, but documentation.
> Since Debian has decided to treat both types equally, but the FSF has
> not, you shouldn't mix things up when claiming to present the FSF's
> view. 
> So do you claim that the GNU project thinks that the basic four freedoms
> should apply to documentation?  If so, please provide some evidence,
> since I have read a couple of quotes from RMS saying the opposite. 

As formulated at http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html, the four
software freedoms can not be applied directly to works that are not
programs and in particular they can not be applied directly to
documentation.  "Run the program" and "study how the program works"
are certainly not activities that can be applied to documentation.

Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that the GNU project doesn't use more
or less the same notion of "freedom" for the free documentation.
Acording to Stallman more or less the same freedoms should apply to
all so called functional works.  The functional works include all
works that are considered to be of practical use, such as software,
software documentation, textbooks, handbooks, dictionaries, reference
books, encyclopedia, cooking recipes, etc.  He has expressed this
opinion in several of his speaches, for example the following is a
quotation from http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/copyright-and-globalization.html:

   This includes recipes, computer programs, manuals and textbooks,
   reference works like dictionaries and encyclopedias. For all these
   functional works, I believe that the issues are basically the same
   as they are for software and the same conclusions apply. People
   should have the freedom even to publish a modified version because
   it's very useful to modify functional works. People's needs are not
   all the same. If I wrote this work to do the job I think needs
   doing, your idea as a job you want to do may be somewhat
   different. So you want to modify this work to do what's good for
   you. At that point, there may be other people who have similar
   needs to yours, and your modified version might be good for
   them. Everybody who cooks knows this and has known this for
   hundreds of years. It's normal to make copies of recipes and hand
   them out to other people, and it's also normal to change a
   recipe. If you change the recipe and cook it for your friends and
   they like eating it, they might ask you, "Could I have the recipe?"
   Then maybe you'll write down your version and give them
   copies. That is exactly the same thing that we much later started
   doing in the free-software community.

> >  Would that be inconvenient to Frank? -- Yes.  Does this
> > inconvenience obstruct the software freedoms somehow? -- Certainly
> > not, the users get the file Frank wants to give them.
> No, many won't download the file if they know they have to download 10
> MB in order to get 900kbyte of content. 

The invariant sections in the GNU manuals are not that large but I
suppose you are not talking about some existing document?

If so I will agree with you -- it is possible to create the invariant
sections that large that it becomes serious burden to distribute them.
If this is realy the case, then this document would be non-free.  The
invariant sections with offensive material give us a similar example
-- documents that contain such invariant section would also be

> Moreover, I doubt that it would be allowed to structure the text
> like this:
> 1. Intro, including explanation of the structure
> 2. Content
> 2.1 to 2.12 the individual documents' internationalization docs
> 3. Legalese
> 3.1 to 3.12 the individual documents' invariant sections

Yes, this is allowed.  Acording to GFDL "Section numbers or the
equivalent are not considered part of the section titles" and
"multiple identical Invariant Sections may be replaced with a single

> Instead, I fear I would be oblidged to go like this:
> 1. Intro
> 2. AUCTeX manual
> 2.1 Invariant front texts
> 2.2 Interesting page
> 2.3 Invariant back texts
> 3. Some other manual
> 3.1 Invariant front texts
> and so forth up to
> 12.3 Invariant back texts.
> This would make the manual basically unusable.

This would be required only if you are creating "aggregation with
independent works".  You will have to create such an aggregation only
if some of your sources are covered under incompatible with GFDL
license.  But even in that case you may combine your GFDL sources and
as a result all invariant sections will be grouped in one place.
Anton Zinoviev

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