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Re: A new practical problem with invariant sections?

On Tue, 14 Feb 2006, olive wrote:
> [...]
> The licenses for most software are designed to take away your freedom to 
> share and change it.
> [...]
> When I say that, a lot of people (which I would call zealots)

First off, please stop calling people names. Even if you disagree
vehemently with their position, it is not appropriate to use
pejorative terms to refer to them.[1]

> say that this argument is irrelevant and must not be discussed
> because it is obvious that the license is not the software and must
> be keep intact.

That's not the issue; the issue is that there is a bright line test
which we can apply. We simply determine whether we are dealing with a
license being used as a set of legal terms under which works in Debian
are being distributed, or a license being distributed as a work on its
own. The former cannot be modified by virtue of its privileged
position. The latter must be modifiable.

> But this shows at least that there can be "sequence of octets" which
> are not the software itself and must be preserved.

No one is arguing that there are not octets which must be preseved; a
copyright notice is yet another example which is far simpler.

> I claim that the invariant sections is just the same: it is not part
> of the documentation (this is required by the GFDL) and there must
> be preserved.

It's an inseparable part of the documentation. (It's an immodifiable,
irremovable section, after all.) What the GFDL requires is that the
section not be related to the primary topic of the documentation.

> For the people who don't agree, I would kindly ask them to say if
> they would consider free a license which give you all the freedoms
> you like but must be preserved intact if this license contains a
> preamble of length similar to the invariant section of GFDL?

If there is part of the license which is not part of the terms or does
not aid in the interpretation or understanding of the license, it
should be modifiable or expungeable; otherwise you're no longer
distributing a "license being used as a set of legal terms under which
a work in Debian is licensed", you're distributing a bit of text that
is wholly unrelated to licensing in the guise of being a license.

The preamble to the GPL (since that appears to be the source of your
argument) is quite clearly directly related to the interpretation of
the terms that the license operates (or is actually part of the terms

> The other objections of the GFDL (DRM, etc...) is based on a bogus
> reading of the GFDL.

I hate to break it to you, but that's not the case. Having discussed
this extensively with people at the FSF, the concerns are real, and
they are in the process of being addressed.

Don Armstrong

1: I personally would typically refrain from responding to e-mails
which attack people in this manner; I'm only responding here to
clarify the current situtation which faces license texts and their
relationship to the DFSG.

2: While the preamble purports to not be the terms, it clearly directs
their interpreation; GPLv3 makes this even more explicit.
A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but
won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
 -- Bill Vaughan

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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