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A clarification for my interpretation of GFDL [was: Anton's amendment]

On Wed, Feb 01, 2006 at 01:22:02AM -0600, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
>         And the DFSG:
> >>       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.

In reply to Manoj I proposed the following interpretation of the words
"the license must allow modifications" (as I have explained many times
"must allow arbitrary modifications" is impossible interpretation):

   The license must give us enough permissions to modify the work in
   order to adapt it to various needs or to improve it.

In order to make reasonably evident that this is not just my
interpretation but also interpretation that is shared by many other
Debian developers I decided to ask Richard Stallman for the opinion of

This was the question I asked Stallman:

   Can you confirm that the second interpretation expresses properly
   what modifications must be allowed about a particular software
   program or documentation for it to be considered free by FSF.

Notice that I intentionaly mentioned both software program and
documentation.  This was the answer by Stallman:

   Basically yes, though I would put it more precisely, because that
   text still has multiple interpretations.

          The license must give us permissions to modify the work in
       order to adapt it to various needs or to improve it, with no
       substantive limits on the nature of these changes, but there
       can be superficial requirements on how they are packaged.

Ofcourse we have the right to have our own opinion, opinion that
differs from the opinion of FSF.  We have the right to decide that our
notion for "free software" differs from the notion of FSF.  We have
the right to interpret DFSG in a different way.  However Debian
project has not decided this yet.  If the project secretary decides
that my proposal (for GFDL) requires 3:1 supermajority, this would
mean that the project secretary decides on behalf of the whole project
that our notion of "free software" differs from the notion of FSF.

I acknowledge that with respect to the so called non-functional works
the notion of Debian project for "freeness" is clearly different to
the notion of FSF.  However here we are talking about GFDL which is a
license that applies to functional works only.

Anton Zinoviev

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