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Re: GFDL GR, vote please!

On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 01:16:59 +0200, Anton Zinoviev <anton@lml.bas.bg> said:

> On Sun, Feb 12, 2006 at 05:20:41PM -0700, Hubert Chan wrote:
>> But the question is not whether or not I am allowed to protect 2.  The
>> question is whether or not that document is free.

> We can not answer that question.

I thought that was the whole point of this debate: to answer whether or
not the GFDL is free.

> We already saw that there are different notions for "free".  Some
> people want to be allowed more in order to acknowledge some work as
> free, but other people require modifiability only as far as it is
> necessary for practical purposes.

We have the DFSG, which by the Social Contract, gives minimum
requirements for a license in order for it to be considered free, and
available in main.  One of those requirements is that it "allow
modifications".  There have been some different interpretations of that
phrase that have been proposed.  I'm trying to show that even under a
minimal reasonable interpretation (e.g. I think we all agree that the
"allows two modifications" interpretation can be discarded), that the
GFDL is still not free enough.  In particular, I'm trying to show that
the GFDL prevents modifications that are necessary for some practical

> Some people admire the existence of free works but consider the
> existence of non-free works to be part of the freedom.  For other
> people it is immoral to forbid the improvements and the widening of
> the practical usefulness of the work; they use this as a criterium for
> freeness.  For some people main/contrib/non-free are designators to
> what extend we are allowed to modify the works.  For other people
> main/contrib/non-free should mean
> moral_works/free_works_promoting_immoral_works/immoral_works (of
> cource currently they don't mean this -- I have packages in contrib).

That is true, but irrelevant to us here.  This GR is about whether or
not the GFDL is free enough according to the DFSG as it is currently
written.  It is not about whether or not it has some immoral

Like I said before, if someone wants to license their text under a
no-modifications license, they are allowed to; it is their choice.  They
just shouldn't expect to have their document included in Debian.

>> I consider footnotes to be part of the text.  If I write a text and
>> include my own footnotes, and I release my text under a
>> no-modification license, I would be extremely angry if anyone
>> modified my footnotes.  To me, a footnote is just as much a part of
>> the text as punctuation, or the words that I use.  And so, to me,
>> adding footnotes is adding to the text.

> Yes, of course the author's footnotes are part of the text and you
> have the right to be angry if someone modified your footnotes.
> However if I add my own footnotes to your text, your text will still
> be preserved unaltered and this is what GFDL requires.

So my footnotes are part of the text, but your footnotes aren't?  I find
that highly nonsensical.  It sounds to me a lot like if you were to say
that the words that I originally wrote are part of the text, but any
words that you add are not, and so you could insert random words into my
essay.  Or the punctuation that I wrote is part of the text, but the
ones that you add are not, so you can add whatever punctuation you want.

Footnotes are either part of the text, or not part of the text.  It
doesn't matter who wrote them.

> I am not allowed to "repair" your text but I can use your reasoning in
> my own text.

Yes.  And you can also use the "reasoning" that's in my code and use it
in your own code.  But the whole point of free software is that you can
take my code and modify it for your own purposes, and not have to start
from scratch.

If you just use my reasoning in your own text, you have to write your
prose from scratch.

> I prefer the first of the following two choices:

>> It seems to me that you have either two choices.  Either you
>> distribute your work as "my original plus modifications" (but as I
>> said above: It is completely useless to give someone else my
>> original essay, plus your modifications --

(Err, well, as I described in a previous message, the GFDL actually
doesn't allow you to extract my essay and distribute it separately
(which to me also makes the GFDL non-free), with or without your
addendum.  So this option isn't actually an option.  But let's assume
that you were allowed to do it anyways...)

> If the situation you described was real my first duty would be to ask
> you 1. why you placed your text in invariant section, 2. would you
> allow some modifications of your text (authorized by you).  If you
> answer to 2 "yes" then I will proceed with the modifications.
> Otherwise: 3. I will ask you for your reasons to not allow
> modifications in the text.  Knowing the answer of 3. I will be able to
> give your invariant section proper framework inside the document.  For
> example depending of your answer I can try to explain to the readers
> the historical context of your text, your wishes, etc.

This is irrelevant.  If you need to get my permission to make a
modification that you need to make, then the license is non-free because
it, in itself, does not give you enough freedom.

You are also assuming that you are able to contact me, which may be
false for any of a number of reasons.

>> it would just be too painful to read.

> The users don't have to read (except for curiosity).

Do you not remember what I said in my first message?

The practical purpose that you are trying to fulfill: modify my essay to
create a document that you can give to someone to convince them about
the value of free software.

If the resulting document is too painful to read, then you have failed
in your practical purpose.

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