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Re: GFDL GR, vote please!

On Sat, 11 Feb 2006 15:34:28 +0200, Anton Zinoviev <anton@lml.bas.bg> said:

> On Fri, Feb 10, 2006 at 03:20:36PM -0700, Hubert Chan wrote:
>> Leaving aside the (seemingly) highly charged issue of the Emacs
>> manual and the GNU Manifesto, let's go into the fantasy world.  Let's
>> say that I write some software, and some documentation for it.
>> Suppose that I license the documentation under the GFDL, and I
>> include an essay about why I like free software as an invariant
>> section.  Suppose that I make some good, new, convincing arguments
>> (that's where the fantasy comes in), but my writing style is a bit
>> off at times (that part would be reality).  And then there's that
>> part where I go off on a tangent about my pet platypus...

> The invariant sections should be used only in order to express what
> someone thinks or saw or what someone belives.

Whether or not that is the purpose that the *should* be used for is
different from whether or they *may* be used for other purposes.  But
anyways, this is beside the point, because in my example, my essay does
express what I think.

> It is not useful to change such texts.

Uhm.  I just gave an example where modification is useful.

> If my opinion is not the same as yours I am allowed to express my
> opinion in additional invariant section.  Or if I think your opinion
> is misleading the readers I can object your opinion in footnotes.

I think you completely missed my point.  This has *nothing* to do with
expressing a different opinion.  This is about expressing my opinion in
a better, more coherent way.  This is all about taking what I wrote,
keeping the useful bits, and *making improvements* where needed.  This
is about creating a better essay from the one I wrote without having to
start from scratch -- something that you could give to someone else, and
convince them of my views.  It is completely useless to give someone
else my original essay, plus your modifications -- it would just be too
painful to read.

If someone is not free to use my text in that manner and *improve* on my
text for their use, I do not consider that free.

(And no, you are not allowed to object to my opinion in footnotes,
because then you would be modifying the invariant section.  The only way
you can object is to add another section.)

>> Since the essay is an invariant section, it prevents anyone from
>> taking my essay, keeping the good bits, fixing my terrible writing
>> style (and correcting my tpyos), and turning it into something that
>> you could put on a manager's desk and convince them of the value of
>> using and developing free software.  Is that not a useful
>> modification?

> You didn't have to include your essay in an invariant section.  You
> however used invariant section so I suppose that for you the arguments
> in your essay are not the most valuable about it.

Why would you make that assumption?  An invariant section is basically
the only way of preventing non-removal.  Or maybe I wast just drunk at
the time.  It doesn't matter *why* I put it in an invariant section.
The issue is whether or not the document is free.

> The most varluable thing about the essay for you must be that the
> essay reflects truly the way you think.  Ofcourse I may assume that
> the terible writing style in your essay is not voluntary so I can
> suggest to you my help.  However if you deny I have no moral right to
> change one so individual text.

This is completely beside the point.  The question is whether or not
useful modification is being prevented.  My license prevents you from
taking my text and modifying it to be more useful.  That makes it

The same could be said of code.  I write a program, but the
functionality is not the most important thing to me.  I'm particularly
attached to a certain sorting routine, because it reflects truly the way
I think, even though it takes O(n^3) time, so I make that sorting
routine invariant.  You may guess that my terrible sorting routine is
not voluntary, so you suggest your help.  I deny, and you have no moral
right to change one so individual function.

And to save you the trouble, now you say that such a license prevents
useful modification.

And then I say, that's exactly the point.  By putting something like
that in an invariant section, no matter how unique it is to me, whether
it be documentation or code, *I am preventing useful modification*.  I
am preventing you from taking what I have written and making it more
useful to you.  And I can't see how any such license can be considered

>> P.S. For those who say that we don't have software licenses that
>> include non-modifiable bits because they prevent useful
>> modifications, is the following a free software license?
>> /* Permission is granted for distribution of verbatim or modified
>> copies of this program in source or binary forms under the condition
>> that contents of the variable "invariant" are not deleted or
>> modified, and that you do not prevent the compiler from including its
>> contents from the resulting binary.  */

> Any fixed piece of code can be prohibitive for some usefull
> modifications - it is not difficult to find examples.

If it is not difficult, then please show how *my particular* example
prevents useful modifications.

You claimed that all fixed code prevents useful modifications.  I gave
an example of fixed code that does not prevent useful modifications
according to what I understand is your definition of a useful
modification.  Now please show me what useful modification that
prevents, so that I can better understand what your definition of useful
modification is.  Do not give my hand-wavy arguments about "it is not
difficult to find examples."

> Notice that GFDL doesn't restrict the changes in the sources in any
> way - in the transparent (i.e. source) copies you can do with the
> invariant sections whatever you want provided in all opaque
> (i.e. binary) copies their text is included unmodified.

OK, fine.  Then instead of saying that the variable "invariant" is
unmodifiable, I just say that you must cause the resulting binary to
include that text, unmodified.  Is such a license free?

Hubert Chan <hubert@uhoreg.ca> - http://www.uhoreg.ca/
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