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Debian GNU/Linux to Declare GNU GFDL non-Free?

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the read-those-licenses dept.

Linux 466

Syntaxis writes "There's some considerable argy-bargy in progress over whether or not GNU's own GFDL is a Free documentation license at all. At issue are "invariant sections" which cannot be removed from derivative works. Check out the thread culminating in the proposed motion to take action. The current consensus on Debian-legal does indeed appear to be that one of the FSF's own licenses is non-Free under the terms of the Debian Free Software Guidelines! Well, documentation for GPLed projects countermanding the very freedoms embodied in the GPL certainly seems insane to me."

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768637)

first post!!!

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768644)

last post!!!!!!!!!

how? (1)

eenglish_ca (662371) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768640)

how did this happen? a slip in the legal department?

Re:how? (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768690)

It looks like they dodged the issue when Debian-legal originally went over the GFDL.

Re:how? (4, Insightful)

lspd (566786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768853)

The GFDL's Preamble states: We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does.

But the reality seems to be that Freedom [gnu.org] to the FSF only really matters when it comes to software. A quick look at the FSF's audio section [gnu.org] shows that their interpretation of Freedom doesn't extend very far in other areas. Would software released under a license that allows "verbatim copying and distribution" be considered FSF free?

Debian takes a broader view [debian.org] that everything in the distro should be "Free". It may sound a bit anal to expect that manuals, audio and graphics should be covered by the same rights to modification, but the sad fact is that it's not just an academic point. Quake2 may be GPL software, but the graphics, music, etc are not covered by the GPL. Since Debian groups software into Free and Non-Free sections, it's important that the distinction is pointed out...regardless of whether it's Quake 2 or GCC.

Is this the part where we find out that (1)

jeroenb (125404) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768646)

RMS and Darth Stallius are the same person after all?

I like this line (5, Funny)

sprprsnmn (619113) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768648)

"This is the stuff of which nasty flamewars and misspelled Slashdot headlines are made"

Re:I like this line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768686)

Argh, beat me to that one....

Re:I like this line (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768701)

Well, at least they got the headline right!

Same with GPL (3, Interesting)

ajuda (124386) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768653)

The GPL can't be modified, yet it is stuck into just about every free package in Debian. If it could be changed, then the software's license could be altered. Bill Gates whould just have to "embrace and extend" the GPL to gain whatever control he wished. We NEED non-free pieces to protect the FREEness of the software. Ironic no?

Also the book "Steal this book" should be banned for false advertising.

Re:Feral Robot Dog? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768665)

what and the System of a Down CD "Steel This CD"

Re:Same with GPL (5, Informative)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768679)

Either you're trolling, or you don't understand the issue. Of course you can't change the license; that would make no sense. The issue has to do with the fact that the GFDL allows portions of the licensed document to be marked "invariant", meaning you can't change those parts. This is logically equivalent to what you would have if the GPL allowed authors to mark parts of their source code as unmodifiable. It essentially means that the document is not entirely free, but only mostly free. The debate within Debian has been about whether "mostly free" is good enough.

Re:Same with GPL (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768706)

When you say that the GPL can't be modified, are you talking about the license? What about a GPLed piece of software can't be forked, torn to a skeleton, and totally rewritten? The point is that I can't GPL only part of my program file, while six lines remain immutable. Stay on focus and don't take every opportunity to swing a cricket bat in a porcelain store.

loophole (1)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768756)

The point is that I can't GPL only part of my program file, while six lines remain immutable.

The GPL allows you to use non-free libraries. Place those six lines in foo.c, GPL foo.h, and like foo.o to your final binary. Don't distribute foo.c with the rest of your app.

Actually, this isn't quite the same thing as the doc problem, because a forker can cut out those lines and you can't call the entire package GPL.

Re:loophole (2, Informative)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768787)

The GPL allows you to use non-free libraries. Place those six lines in foo.c, GPL foo.h, and like foo.o to your final binary. Don't distribute foo.c with the rest of your app.

Nah, thats the LGPL. The GPL doesn't let you link against non-GPL libs IIR.

Re:loophole (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768801)

Sorry, you're wrong. The GPL's restriction on linking prevents this. If you want to do something like that, the application would have to be under the LGPL to allow linking with binary-only libraries.

Really, did you think every person/corporation wanting to exploit GPL'd software hadn't already thought of that and rejected it after actually reading the license?

my mistake (1)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768865)

So long as they don't become "one program."

You'd have to dynamically link the two. No static linking. GPL works can use proprietary libs, they just can't buser used by proprietary programs as libs.

Re:Same with GPL (1)

joshdaymont (667313) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768777)

I don't buy needing nonfree software so that free software can stay that way. Software was originally not free, it was either a top secret government project or the product of internal corporate R&D. "Free" software came about more so when computers became devices for enthusiasts, e.t. the Altair etc. The great thing about "free" software IMHO is that it is "free" to be commercialized! GPL'd code is not. Take FreeBSD vs. Linux, while many companies base their products on Linux, those who have more unix experience and intend to *improve* the code use FreeBSD. This creates more BSD developers and helps the free FreeBSD community in the long run. Josh Damont MobileSecure, Inc. http://www.mobile-secure.com/

Re:Same with GPL (1)

hankaholic (32239) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768818)

Yes, it can be modified...

From http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html:

"9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns."

Suggested usage:

"This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version."

Sure, you don't have to provide the specific text of the suggested usage, but the FSF intends for you to copy and paste that code into your app, and I'd imagine that many do.

Debian has some weird licencing rules. (2, Insightful)

caluml (551744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768656)

I think Debian take all this licencing stuff far too seriously. They have some insane clause about the kind of software they can include in their distros. Personally, I think they should include anything that they are legally allowed to.

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (5, Informative)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768668)

You obviously don't understand what the Debian project is all about. It isn't just a Linux distro; it is specifically a free software distro. They don't want anything that isn't free-as-in-liberty. That's why they have the licensing rules that they do.

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (1)

the gnat (153162) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768846)

It isn't just a Linux distro; it is specifically a free software distro. They don't want anything that isn't free-as-in-liberty.

I've never had any illusions about that. However, it's a bit bizarre to see Debian fanboys posting about how great their OS is, and complaining about how Debian doesn't get as much commercial attention as, say, RedHat. Among several reasons why I don't use Debian is exactly this licensing issue - I don't really care about it nearly as much as they do, and I just want my computer to work with a minimum of fuss, without having to discriminate between Free and non-Free packages.

I'm sure it's technically quite excellent, but all I need is to get my code written and my research done. From my perspective, as long as I can burn a RedHat CD and install it on as many computers as I want, it's no less "free" than Debian, regardless of whether or not it includes Netscape 4.

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768696)

I'd suggest you take a look at Gentoo. I have, and it's a great distro, very much like Debian, but without all the ridiculous politics. Progress is actually made!

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (0, Offtopic)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768703)

And what's more, you have to build everything yourself from source! Just think, only three days of heavy CPU and disk usage for each major KDE upgrade!

I'll take this troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768763)

You obviously have no clue as to what is being discussed here.

While all Debian packages are available in source form so that you may compile them uniquely for your system if you wish, Debian is a binary distribution.

STFU and RTFM.

Re:I'll take this troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768800)

Crap, I apologize for this post.

Slashdot's "Nested" view of comments seriously screws things up by reparenting certain posts.

Re:I'll take this troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768860)

Hahaha, you thought he was talking about Debian, didn't you?

Don't worry - come and help us bash the Gentoo zealots!

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (1)

Frodo Looijaard (12815) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768861)

Ehmm...

Either this is a joke I don't get, or you are confusing Debian with some of the *BSDs...

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768711)

Fuck off, Gentoo freako cloneboy. We hate you and your fucking distro. You know why? Becuase anytime anybody mentions any other distro in the entrie universe, one of you comes along and says, "Try Gentoo! It's k00l! You can optimize [Translation: Recompile with options that will bloat the resulting code and slow it down] everything! W00t!".

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768894)

"Gentoo. Because we know that everyone one has 3 days of CPU time to install Mozilla."

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (1)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768699)

I think you are totaly wrong.

That is why I like debian.

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768829)

You like Debian because you think he is wrong? ;)

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (2, Interesting)

iabervon (1971) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768770)

Debian's distribution mechanism does provide for packages from non-free and even non-debian sources, which should be sufficient for all practical applications. For the packages for which there is a desire and the legal permission to do so, debian maintains their own patches, packaging information, etc. to make the software work smoothly with the rest of debian; they use their guidelines to determine whether they can do this with a particular package or whether they have to use a less hands-on method of dealing with it.

It actually makes a lot of sense for debian to have a policy of distinguishing between packages they are licensed to maintain and packages which can only be maintained effectively by other people.

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768778)

I agree with the sentiment that the parent is completely wrong.

"some insane clause"

Yes, and the U.S. Constitution has some "insane caluse" about this whole freedom of speech business. Shouldn't we just allow the government to restrict whichever rights it takes to be most economically and socially productive?

Wait, no, we value freedom for a reason.

If you do not value these freedoms, then your input is not welcome.

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768836)

If you do not value these freedoms, then your input is not welcome.

Some kind of debate that would be.
"You're only allowed to participate in this discussion if you agree with what we tell you to agree with."

Re:Debian has some weird licencing rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768871)

Again, this is not a debate.

Certain freedoms are agreed upon by the Debian project. These freedoms are not up for discussion or debate.

All that is being debated is whether or not this particular license is compatible with the freedoms agreed upon by the Debian project.

If you do not value the freedoms essential to the Debian project and you make comments or suggests based upon premises incompatible with these freedoms, then certainly your input can be of no value whatsoever.

The Constitution has some "weird" freedoms. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768789)

But hey, who needs freedoms, let's just be "pragmatic", whatever that is supposed to mean.

Re:The Constitution has some "weird" freedoms. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768810)

The US constitution.

Try to remember that we are not all from the US, hard for you to believe as that may be.

If you want true open source on anything (1, Interesting)

antis0c (133550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768658)

Stick to public domain. GPL is no more free than Microsoft, just each end an extreme. Microsoft, no source, no tampering, no nothing. GPL, Always source, no matter what. Sure it works for some, I have a few projects I own that are GPL, incidentally because I originally unknowingly GPL'd them, and a few now that are public domain. I prefer public domain, there is little to no worries at all on it. I'm even more free in the choice because I could one day take works I put into public domain and use them in a closed source application, such as for consulting work. People will benefit from the source I had originally made, and I benefit in the fact I can use the work in closed environments.

Re:If you want true open source on anything (5, Informative)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768670)

In case you didn't realise, any works completely of your creation can be used in any way you like, as you're the sole copyright holder.

So the only case where you wouldn't be able to take a work you've released under GPL and include it in a closed source application is where you've either (a) originally taken source that was under GPL or similar and added to it or (b) applied patches from people where those patches were supplied in the understanding that the resulting app would be released under GPL or similar license.

In other words, your comment about releasing your own works into the public domain because it gives you more freedom are wrong.

Re:If you want true open source on anything (1)

antis0c (133550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768814)

My point exactly. If I had originally created Application X and licensed it under the GPL, accepted patches from people who understood the application was GPL, then I can no longer close source my application.

Just in the same way I can "close source" any GPL application but I can't release it, I can only use it myself. The point is once you get going with an application under the GPL, you have little chances of turning back.

Where as I can just public domain my software, and its as free as air. No one, not even the mighty RMS himself can claim that much freedom in a license.

Re:If you want true open source on anything (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768845)

Well, if that was your point, you didn't actually say so. Sorry.

In any case, you can always go back to the original GPL release and base your closed app on that if you want to. You're not losing anything, because even if you did release your code into the public domain, that would give you no particular rights to use changes made to that code by other people.

In other words, you'd be in exactly the same position whether you released your app as GPL or public domain, except that people would be able to incorporate your code into their closed apps if you release it into the public domain.

Re:If you want true open source on anything (1)

Ewan (5533) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768676)

If you created some software which you GPL'd, you could later take that same original code and relicense it for another purpose, as long as you hadn't accepted any changes back into the codebase which you had GPL'd. The original version would remain GPL'd of course, you can't take that away.

For example mozilla is dual-licensed to allow Netscape to remain closed source, and have mozilla as open source. Some more info on it is available here. [mozilla.org]

Changes? THink more carefully... (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768764)

If I have a project I"ve started, and it's GPLd, and you submit me a little diff, a bugfix, say...
you do not, i'm afraid, automatically become a co-author.

Even if you submit a whole subsection to a peice of code..... the language you submitted it to me really DOES matter. IF you gave me a patch, and said "here, if you want ot include this in the project". You just GAVE it to me... you just assumed I was going to publicly release it in the GPL version. I still retain copyright, even if I include the code you gave me.

Just because the project is GPL does not *necessarily* mean that all changes submitted by others grants them co-authorship.

Re:If you want true open source on anything (1)

sprzepiora (160561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768678)

As the owner of the code (did you take patches?) you are free to re-license your software as you see fit. Including issueing multiple licenses. Whoever uses your software can only use it under the license you give them.

Re:If you want true open source on anything (2, Informative)

Frater 219 (1455) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768704)

GPL is no more free than Microsoft,

I'd like to invite you to peruse this article [slashdot.org] in my Slashdot journal, which responds to that very claim. In brief: the overwhelming difference is that "Microsoft" (read: the proprietary/EULA licensing model) places onerous restrictions and risks upon the ordinary user -- not even just the programmer! -- for which there is no equivalent in Free Software.

NO, sorry (3, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768752)

I'm not a GPL zealot by any means.. however..

TO start with, both Microsoft's code, and, say, RMS, are protected by copyright laws. In that, sure, they are the same.

Microsoft, however, makes you agree to a bunch of additional terms above and beyond the protections it would be provided under just copyright law. Stuff like "no reverse engineering" "No benchmarks" "not transferrable to another system" etcetera. You get the idea.

RMS code, released under the GPL, does NOT require you to accept ANY license at all. The GPL is NOT a use license.
You are free to do anything with the code that standard copyright laws allowed.
IN ADDITION to that, you can choose to accept the terms of the GPL, which grants you additional rights ABOVE and BEYOND what copyright alone allows you to do. You are still free to contact the copyright holder and request other licensing as well.

So it all really depends on what you mean by freedom. I agree, real freedom would be simply releasing it into the public domain, where anyone can do anything at all with it. The GPL is just pushing an agenda.

Re:If you want true open source on anything (1)

hankaholic (32239) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768831)

If you wrote the code, you own the copyright to it, and are free to start releasing it under public domain if you wish.

Owning copyright means that you can release it under whatever licenses, and as many licenses, as you want.

Screw the source, free the developer.

Just plain wrong. (4, Insightful)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768870)

Stick to public domain. GPL is no more free than Microsoft, just each end an extreme. Microsoft, no source, no tampering, no nothing. GPL, Always source, no matter what. Sure it works for some, I have a few projects I own that are GPL, incidentally because I originally unknowingly GPL'd them, and a few now that are public domain. I prefer public domain, there is little to no worries at all on it. I'm even more free in the choice because I could one day take works I put into public domain and use them in a closed source application, such as for consulting work. People will benefit from the source I had originally made, and I benefit in the fact I can use the work in closed environments.

The problem here isn't the GPL. You just don't understand it right.

If you put a project under the GPL, you can still use your own code in a closed project. Since you own the copyright, you can release the code under multiple copyrights. Releasing it under the GPL is actually better because it means no one else can use your code in a closed product.

Stick to public domain. GPL is no more free than Microsoft, just each end an extreme.

This really makes me wonder if you're trolling. This statement is just silly. With MS software you have the rights granted to you by copyright law, but they are restriced by a license. With GPL'ed software you get the rights granted to you by copyright law, plus additional rights are granted to you is you agree to the GPL. The GPL does not attempt to remove any of the rights granted by copyright, it actually gives you more. MS licences try to remove rights granted to you by copyright while not giving you any more.(BTW, this makes the GPL perhaps the most legally binding of software licences.) This is like saying that $1,000,000,000 is no better than $.01 because they're different ends of an extreme. It's nonsense. It's like saying facism is no different than democracy because they're both forms of government.

I like his sig: (2, Funny)

vicviper (140480) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768660)

G. Branden Robinson "To be is to do" -- Plato
Debian GNU/Linux "To do is to be" -- Aristotle
branden@debian.org "Do be do be do" -- Sinatra

I declare my vomit is for all toddlers! (-1)

I VOMIT ON TODDLERS! (642865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768661)

It's free, both as in speech and as in vomit!

Lack of pragmatism (4, Informative)

Eloquence (144160) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768667)

People who choose the FDL usually know little about its specifics -- they just want their documentation to be available under a copyleft license. Thus, virtually all FDL documents are free of invariant sections. Instead of condemning the license outright, a pragmatic approach would therefore be to define a threshold of invariant content (say, 20%), after which a document is no longer considered free. The FDL is the standard license for free, open content (see also Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , perhaps the largest open content project), and ostracizing it entirely will get us nowhere.

Upon reading the post, however, what I see is a bean counter mentality that can really be dangerous to open source projects as a whole. I shudder at the thought of hundreds of package maintainers being contacted to deal with this "license issue", which is really a non-issue to anyone with some common sense. This time would better be spent working on real problems -- it's not like Debian has none of those ...

Re:Lack of pragmatism (1)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768695)

How about a threshold of invariant content like, say, 0%? Any invariant content at all makes the documentation less than fully free-as-in-liberty.

In good Slashdot tradition, I have not read the debian-legal thread referenced by the story, so I don't know if they have considered a policy that GFDL-licensed documentation is DFSG-free as long as it has no invariant sections. Surely someone must have thought of that already, so maybe there were good reasons against that.

Re:Lack of pragmatism (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768732)

From Branden Robinson's post:

I don't restrict this to GNU FDL-licensed documents that have Cover

Texts or Invariant Sections because previous discussions have indicated
that there may be still other problems with the GNU FDL 1.2. I seem to
recall someone raising a fairly persuasive critique of section 4K, for
instance. Thus, if we're going to nail some theses to the church door,
we might as well make sure that they're comprehensive.


So yes, he has considered your idea.
Personally, I think the best way out of the whole mess is to get the FSF to release a new version of the GFDL removing the invariant section and cover text blocks and fixing up whatever other issues Debian has with it, since 99% of the time stuff released under it is going to allow licensing under later versions of the license as well.

Re:Lack of pragmatism (1)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768751)

Yes, it's interesting how the Debian project is turning out to be more pro-freedom than even the FSF.

Re:Lack of pragmatism (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768745)

Again, you demonstrate complete ignorance of what Debian project is about.

If you install a Debian distribution on your system created from the "main" repository, it is guarunteed that everything on your system, including an image of the system as a whole, is free at *least* in the sense of the GPL.

This is not a "pragmatic" stance. This is an idealist stance, and I for one place great value in it.

I salute the Debian project maintainers and contributors for their commitment to ideals, and their ability to produce and maintain a very powerful and stable practical system while following those ideals.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Re:Lack of pragmatism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768795)

Unfortunately, the pragmatism of ignorance is not an effective barrier. Case in point: now every Slashdot reader ie exposed to the problems with the FDL.
Defining a threshold will create an unending battleground over "how much" should this ever become a point of contention, just like a fifteen year 'favour' to copyright owners two hundred years ago resulted in effectively eternal IP protection. The Debian crew is right, FDL runs counter to the spirit of the GPL and should be fixed.

Who the fuck cares? Lunix is GAY. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768683)

Just buy Windows you cheap bastards.

Re:Who the fuck cares? Lunix is GAY. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768714)

Damn, the quality of trolls around here has really gone through the floor since the classic days of OOG the Open-Source Caveman and the Glorious MEEPT!!!, not to mention hot grits and Natalie Portman NAKED AND PETRIFIED.

It wasn't really a troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768760)

A *real* troll talks about such things like the censorware.org project (Way to fuck things up, Michael). Or how Doom was the cause of the Columbine shootings, and how John Carmack should have been arrested for it. (It's true, he *should*)

Re:Who the fuck cares? Lunix is GAY. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768863)

I don't think you understand. It's not about the money.
I wouldn't use Windows even if it was free. In fact, I wouldn't even use it if you paid me to.

Good for dcumentation bad for programs (2, Interesting)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768689)

There is a diffrence between documentation and software, a good documentation license need not
be good for software, and vice versa.

So I think the GNU documentation license is ok for
documentation, and should be allowed for
documentation, but NOT for software.

Re:Good for dcumentation bad for programs (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768749)

What are you talking about? The GFDL is specifically for documentation, and Debian is complaining about how it affects documentation to which it is applied.

Nobody said anything about using it for software. RTFA already, OK?

Re:Good for dcumentation bad for programs (1)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768823)

No, but we are talking about program licenses.
I do not think documentation licenses need to
fullfill free software guidelines.

Neither does the fsf, otherwise they would not
have published the license. The GFDL has these
"problematic" parts for a reason; resons that
are not as valuable in software.

Is the question "is the documentation free
software" sane?

I, personly think there is a difference, and
I think the GFDL is okey for documentation,
but NOT for software, maby we should have
another license for music!

Do you now get what I mean?

Re:Good for dcumentation bad for programs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768843)


Neither does the fsf, otherwise they would not
have published the license. The GFDL has these
"problematic" parts for a reason; resons that
are not as valuable in software.


And do you know what those reasons are? The "Invariant" sections under critique are only permitted to be, basically, opinionated rants. They have to be "secondary sections" (that is, sections of the documentation that are not about the main topic), and the only places they've been used in FSF documentation under this license has been ideological rants.

That is, the FSF wants to make it so you can't remove thier soapbox rants from thier documentation if you make a derived work.

Re:Good for dcumentation bad for programs (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768888)

OK, I see where you're coming from now. Sorry for the flame.

The thing you missing is that for the Debian Project, this is an ideological issue - are they justified in calling it a free software distribution if the documentation is (by their standards) not as free as the code itself?

Really, it's up to the project to decide what to do, as the people involved are the only ones who can say whether or not their consciences allow them to continue distributing the docs under the current GFDL.

DEATH to debian. RedHat is ok. Microsoft ROCKS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768694)

DEATH to debian

Who wants that piece of CRAP

If you really have to stick with opencrap, go, RedHat is better and more American.

Why would you losers hang to these opensource CRAP

Microsoft products are the best

Want Proof

How long does it take to set up a Windows system?
Compare that to the opencrap system.
With intuitive grafical interface setting up a Windows system is a breeze. setting up an opencrap system is HELL

How many hardware is supported by your opencrap systems
ubs, FireWire, PDAs and cuttingedge hardware are all NOT supported by opencrap, but is beautifully supported by Windows and setting up these are a breeze.

---
One People! One Mind! One View!
Heil Bush
(He is OUR President and He ROCKS)

Clarification (4, Insightful)

GammaTau (636807) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768707)

Debian isn't about to remove all documentation licensed under GFDL, only the documentation that takes advantage of the invariant sections (or some other non-modifiable features of GFDL). Unfortunately this includes most of the GNU project documentation since the GNU project has marked the usual GNU propaganda blurbs invariant.

What's strange is that according to GFDL the invariant sections must not be about the actual subject of the documentation. Instead must be "secondary sections", as described in the GFDL:

A "Secondary Section" is a named appendix or a front-matter section of the Document that deals exclusively with the relationship of the publishers or authors of the Document to the Document's overall subject (or to related matters) and contains nothing that could fall directly within that overall subject. (Thus, if the Document is in part a textbook of mathematics, a Secondary Section may not explain any mathematics.) The relationship could be a matter of historical connection with the subject or with related matters, or of legal, commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position regarding them.

The "Invariant Sections" are certain Secondary Sections whose titles are designated, as being those of Invariant Sections, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. If a section does not fit the above definition of Secondary then it is not allowed to be designated as Invariant. The Document may contain zero Invariant Sections. If the Document does not identify any Invariant Sections then there are none.

Frankly, it seems to me that the GNU project would have added the invariant sections only force their political statements to be carried everywhere along the documentation. Many people have pondered that if they request the operating system to be called GNU/Linux, why don't they add a clause in their license to demand that. Well, maybe they have started moving towards that direction.

So it seems to me (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768790)

that the invariant sections can simply be a short history of the document or the like. For example, you might want to include a section that says "this document was written by so-and-so with the help of so-and-so; it went through revisions x, y, z; if you like this document, send pizza to this address, etc.". The invariant section cannot deal with the actual subject of the document (i.e. you cannot mark a chapter as invariant). This doesn't sound that bad to me.

Re:So it seems to me (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768808)

The other thing most likely to be marked as invariant would probably be appendices containing raw data (such as performance testing, experimental results, etc.), since altering these would destroy their validity.

Re:So it seems to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768878)


The other thing most likely to be marked as invariant would probably be appendices containing raw data (such as performance testing, experimental results, etc.), since altering these would destroy their validity.


Not permitted. The invariant sections are a type of "secondary section" that cannot primarily be related to the main topic of the work.

That is, you get to have documentation with the author's fringe political opinions in them that you can't remove for other people. Yay FSF!

Re:So it seems to me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768859)


Really? And how would you feel if you got a nice piece of documentation, and it included a scathing critique of the Iraq war as an "Invariant Section"?

That's what these sections are meant for -- they're meant to keep ideological rants safe from being removed from documentation.

If someone did put some rant about the Iraq war in their free documentation (under a license other than the one under discussion), there would be a ton of places where you could get a copy with that garbage stripped out. However, if it's marked "Invariant" (i.e. immutable and nonremovable), that would be illegal.

Re:Clarification (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768848)

Many people have pondered that if they request the operating system to be called GNU/Linux, why don't they add a clause in their license to demand that.

Perhaps because it isn't their OS so they can't demand that it's called anything.

"I demand that I may, or may not be, Magicthighs" "It's alright, you don't have to demand that." "Oh."

TWW

Correct me if I'm wrong (5, Insightful)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768724)

As I understood it, the license allowed for invariant sections so that you can include "Originally written by..." at the top and then prevent anyone from changing it; I've always intended to distribute laboratory manuals under this license, and I can think of some other things I might want to make invariant, primary data for instance. In source, you might conceivably use such a clause to require someone to include a Trojan (or, gasp, an unfree supplementary component!), but since it is a document we're talking about, I do not see the problem. If I decide to make false or misleading text invariant, why use my document (or fork of a document) at all?

If I understand correctly, absolutely nothing prevents you from adding entire additional sections to the document - including, if necesarry, screaming tirades against sections you were forced to include.

Let me put it another way - I release the documentation for my software under this license. What invariant text could I possibly add that is genuinely going to interfere with someone's free speech?

Re:Scratch part of that (1)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768830)

Actually, now that I've re-read the license, I see that it makes seperate provisos for most of the invariant sections I would expect to want to include; authors, acknowledgements and suchnot.

Nonetheless, the primary data in a methods paper is something I would wish to require be included in an invariant form; if you are going to modify the method and claim an improvement, you should be required to include the primary data generated by my method which you have altered. I'm sure there are other examples of sundry text that some author might wish to require.

Oh, the Irony. (1, Insightful)

Montreal Geek (620791) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768734)

Isn't funny that RSM keeps hammering the difference between free (as in beer) software versus free (as in speech ) software; claiming how important and critical the latter is...

And yet the GFDL is the perfect illustration of that analogy; upside down! That documentation is very free (beer), but specificaly prohibits modification of the invariant sections which is limiting speech.

Sorry, Richard, can't have the cake and eat it too. You figure it's evil for someone to publish code not wanting someone else to fiddle in it, but you figure that as long as you feel it's important to you, documentation can be so protected?

-- MG

Re:Oh, the Irony. (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768807)

Mod this guy up, 'cause he's got Stallman's FSF pegged.

Free as in beer means you get folks to come to your party by rewarding those who show up. More generically, it means you offer something of value at little or no monetary cost in exchange for the recipient performing some other non-monetary action such as adopting a social agenda. Posing for publicity shots after winning a contest, for example. Or using GPLed code.

Free as in freedom means no external party compels you to do anything. This is the situation you get when using stuff in the public domain.

Don't get me wrong: the free beer approach to software development has great advantages. But don't call it freedom, 'cause its not.

BTW, wasn't the GPL itself always invariant? You could use it or not use it, but you needed the FSF's permission (which was never given) to use a modified copy. That should really have been the first clue that the GPL wasn't about freedom.

No problem (2, Interesting)

1nv4d3r (642775) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768743)

Sure, you can't modify the text of an invariant section, but with a little ingenuity you can completely change its meaning.

For instance: after a glance at the license, it doesn't say you can't move the invariant sections. Think of the possibilities!

Also, say paragraph 1.2 is an invariant section. Just add section 1.1:

1.1 The content of section 1.2 is an obsolete project policy, reproduced here for historical purposes only.

1.2 <invariant section...something about making source available or some such...dunno>

Re:No problem (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768817)

Please note that altering the documentation does nothing to change the license the code was released under.

You can add all the clauses you like to the docs saying "RMS is a GIANT BABOON! This software is no longer under the GPL - it's been seized by the IRA! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!" and try and incorporate the code in your proprietary app, but you'll still get sued for copyright infringement.

Re:No problem (0, Offtopic)

Soft (266615) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768892)

Exam form:

1--Read through the whole test before you begin;
2--Write down your name and the date in the upper left corner of the answer sheet;
3--Underline line (1) above;
4--The most famous of Einstein's equations is: ___
5--If no one else in the room has done so yet, exclaim loudly "five down already!";
6--Fill in every lowercase letter "o" on this sheet;
...
49--Say aloud "I'm almost through!";
50--Disregard all previous instructions except (1), (2) and (3); allotted time is 10 minutes.

Debian ain't even a pimple on a bull's ass (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768755)

Who gives a shit what Debian thinks? They are the tail trying to wag the dog.

Clue to Debian -- you ain't shit.

ya ok (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768758)

That is because Debian Legal are a bunch of wannabe lawyers who are all IANALS and don't know how to code shit so instead they have to argue about the color of the shed or in this case the freeness of the license.

fucktards.

Boycott Debian, use gentoo instead! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768767)

Debian is nothing but gnu/Stallman's army of Gnu/trolls. Why do you think they're the only major distro that actually puts gnu/ in front of Linux? All other distros call it by it's real name, LINUX!

Join the real linux club, and be one of the 1000's of 1337 users TODAY! [gentoo.org] . No stupid licencing, no religous zealots, no gnu/ prefixes, just power and control, and we like it!

apt-get uninstall debian; emerge gentoo!

Stallman doesn't believe in total freenes (4, Insightful)

lkaos (187507) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768783)

I just went to a talk given by RMS here in Austin at SxSW [sxsw.com] where RMS spoke on copyright.

For at least half of the talk, he spoke regarding the history of copyright and was absolutely boring at all hell (perhaps it's because I only have Lessig's Free Culture [lessig.org] talk to compare to).

For the second half of the talk, he began to outline how he thinks the copyright office should work (he admits this isn't a perfect system, but he thinks this is how it should be). Essentially, he narrowed down all intellectual works into three catagories:
  1. Functional
    These are works that serve some sort of functional use within society. This includes text books, manuals, and software. These works should be free as in speech.

  2. Biographical
    These are works that are compliations of a particular authors opinions. RMS thought these could go either way. Maybe they could have a limited period of monopolistic power (of course no longer than 2 years).

  3. Aesthetic
    These are works that only have aesthetic value (in other words, they are the shiny things of the world). Stallman stated that a copyright system should allow a 2-3 year monopoly on such works (this means the RIAA could still do all it does but that you'd be allow to trade songs that were 3+ years old).
Now, I believe there are some major holes in this, but I brought up the point that software licenses surely are functional works within society and therefore the GPL license itself (the actual document that you include with your software) should be free as in speech (it currently disallows derivative works).

Stallman had no answer for this and instead spent 15 minutes explaining to me why using the term "Intellectual Property" meant that I couldn't even begin to understand the issues at hand.

I've always been a defender of Stallman but I lost an awful lot of respect for him that night. I fully support Debian in this matter.

Re:Stallman doesn't believe in total freenes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768828)

I prefer to think that you indeed know nothing about the issues involved and are no more deserving of my attention than a sewer rat. RMS RAWKS!

Is Debian the bad guy? (4, Insightful)

Simon Lyngshede (623138) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768793)

If I read the GFDL correctly an Invariant Section simply concerns it self with secondary sections. Secondary sections being sections which contains information about authors, publishers and so on. They are not allowed to contain content regarding the overall subject.

To me this seems fair. Invariant sections ensures that all people involved in the creation of this document is properly credited. When writing free documents all you have is the credit and the Debian people want to take that away from you. I must have misunderstood something, this can't be right. If it is then Debian just became the bad guys. When we're developing free software / doucuments / whatever the only thing we have is our name. We don't expect to get paid, but most of us would like the credit.

I'm sure I misread the GFDL, if not I didn't I'm really disappointed with Debian.

No, that's the History section (1)

dark-nl (568618) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768876)

The GFDL requires credits to be in the History section. The Invariant sections are over and above that. The FSF uses them for things like the GNU Manifesto and the emacs "Distribution" page (which is sure to become outdated at some point, so I really wonder why it's Invariant).

If I ever maintain a GFDL document I'll probably use them to explain how Debian developers are the secret masters of the world, who have been guiding human evolution for millions of years so that one day we may finally be free of the hostile K'reth who dwell under the sea.

It's about time... (4, Interesting)

hankaholic (32239) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768798)

As I see it, the greatest thing about the Debian project is the fact that they don't subscribe to the typical herd mentality so often seen in the open-source community.

I've seen many, many Debian developers using "GNU/Linux" to describe the operating system, which does give credit where credit is due.

However, the GNU project's goals often frighten me (inasmuch as I give a shit), and it's nice to see that someone in the community is willing to point out their mistakes.

Many have pointed out that you could put the content of an entire work in an "invariant" section of a GFDL-licensed document. I believe there may be certain rules regarding the proportion of invariant sections to non-invariant sections, but defeating this is akin to defeating the Slashdot lameness filters: a definite time-waster, but not impossible.

The GNU Project is shady. Make no mistake about it: The GPL restricts choice as much as an NDA would.

I often wonder how many successful works the GNU Project could claim if it weren't for the restrictions inherent in the GPL. One oft-cited (but quite relevant) example is GCC: stagnation left many unsatisfied, so EGCS was started, blah, blah, blah. Basically GNU took (with permission) the work of those who had made EGCS a much better compiler, and renamed it GCC.

To contribute to GCC, in fact, it is not enough that you GPL your code and give a license to the GNU Project. No, you have to ASSIGN COPYRIGHT of the code to GNU, basically saying that the code is no longer yours, and that you would no longer have the right to take code from an existing work (such as a commercial compiler which you wrote) and contribute it to GCC, because you would no longer own the original code due to copyright violation.

Does this remind anyone of recording companies requiring artists to hand over their original works?

Everything done in a GNU project benefits the FSF (at the very least, with added prestige) -- they can claim that they, and they alone, own the code. This includes the right to, if they chose, hire coders to develop the HURD into a useable OS kernel (refer to my sig here), and release it under a closed-source license. Or, to make major improvements to GCC and sell it commercially under a non-GPL license.

If Walter Bright decided to allow the FSF to use major portions of his C++ compiler, which he sells commercially (and includes, I believe, much better support for C++ templates than GCC), he would have to assign copyright of his code to the FSF, therefore preventing him from using it in releases of his commercial compiler in the future.

The FSF is brain-dead, folks, and kudos to Debian folks for having the cojones to point out one of the more obviously stupid flaws in a GNU license.

(Many may note the fact that I focus a bit on compiler issues here. I have followed, to some extent, the GCC development lists, and from what I have seen, it can be a pain in the ass to contribute to GCC. Apple has many improvements to the compiler in their internal tree, and I often wonder if more of those improvements would have been rolled back into GCC by now if not for the hoops they have to jump through in order to get those changes submitted.

I've seen people make feature suggestions on the list which the Apple guys say they've already done and tested internally. The response is often, "We've done this, but we weren't sure if anyone else would find it useful. We'll look into getting permission to release it." It seems obvious that getting permission to hand over copyright would make that process a little harder.

Why do I focus on compiler issues so much? Various reasons... quality of generated code on Intel vs. other architectures, KDE slowness due to C++ linkages, blah blah blah. The compiler is key to getting code to run quickly on modern CPUs, as anyone pushing a non-Intel architecture would do well to remember.)

Don't trust the FSF. Appreciate their work, but don't hand over your firstborn. They can do whatever they want, including rewrite the GPL to state that any GPL'd code may be sold commercially by the FSF without providing source code.

FSF says free the source. I say free the developer.

The GFDL License Problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768806)

The two major categories of free software license are copyleft and non-copyleft. Copyleft licenses such as the GNU GPL insist that modified versions of the program must be free software as well. Non-copyleft licenses do not insist on this. We recommend copyleft, because it protects freedom for all users, but non-copylefted software can still be free software, and useful to the free software community.

There are many variants of simple copyleft free software licenses, including the GPL license, the Lesser GPL license, and the GFLD license. Most of them are equivalent except for details of wording, but the license used for GFDL has a special problem: the ``obnoxious GFLD Invariant Sectioons clause''.

Initially the obnoxious Invariant Sections clause was used only in the GNU Documentation. That did not cause any particular problem, because including one section in a technical docunent is not a great practical difficulty.

If other developers who used GFDL-like licenses had copied the GFDL invariant sections clause verbatim--then they would not have made the problem any bigger.

But, as you might expect, other developers did not copy the clause verbatim. They changed it, replacing ``GNU'' with their own sections or their own names. The result is a plethora of licenses, requiring a plethora of different sections.

When people put many such documentation together in an operating system, the result is a serious problem. Imagine if a software system required 75 different sections, each one naming a different author or group of authors.

This might seem like extrapolation ad absurdum, but it is actual fact. NetBSD comes with a long list of different sentences, required by the various licenses for parts of the system. In a 1997 version of NetBSD, I counted 75 of these sentences. I would not be surprised if the list has grown by now.

To address this problem, in my ``spare time'' I talk with developers who have used GFDL-style licenses, asking them if they would please remove the invariant sections clause. Around 1996 I spoke with the developers of Wikipedia about this, and they decided to remove the advertising clause from all of their own code.

Unfortunately, this does not eliminate the legacy of the Invariant Sections clause: similar clauses are still present in the licenses of many documents which are not part of GNU. These changes in licenses has no effect on the other packages which imitated the old GFDL license; only the developers who made them can change them.

But if they followed Debian's lead before, maybe Debian's change in policy will convince some of them to change. It's worth asking.

So if you have a favorite package which still uses the GFDL license with the Invariant Sections clause, please ask the maintainer to look at this post, and consider making the change.

And if you want to release a document as copylefted free content, please don't use the Invariant Sections clause.

You can also help spread awareness of the issue by not using the term ``GFDL-style'', and not saying ``the GFDL license'' which implies there is only one. You see, when people refer to all copyleft free doc licenses as ``GFDL-style licenses'', some new free software developer who wants to use a copyleft free doc license might take for granted that the place to get it is from GFDL. He or she might copy the license with the invariant sections clause, not by specific intention, just by chance.

If you would like to cite one specific example of a copyleft license, and you have no particular preference, please pick an example which has no particular problem. For instance, if you talk about ``Creative Commons style licenses'', you will encourage people to copy the license from CC, which avoids the advertising clause for certain, rather than take a risk by randomly chosing the GFDL license.

Read this. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768826)

Here [wikipedia.org] is the definition of an invariant section. It is VERY discusting what the debian people wan't to do.

Basicly the debian developers want the right to steal your GFLD'd documents and strip you out of the credits/biblography so they can claim THEY wrote it.

So, if someone were to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768834)

... write a program which did nothing more than display the contents of this license (text of license included - with necessary sections unaltered - in the program, rather than loaded from file), then released said program under the GPL, would others be able to modify the license in subsequent releases/forks of said program or would the GPL be overruled?

Who Cares? (1)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768838)

Who cares what a distro does? I don't even use Debian, how is this affecting me. Why should I care?(I'm really asking a question, not trolling)

Re:Who Cares? (1)

CSieber (548526) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768901)

Debian is one of the first GNU/Linux distro's, and possibly the most geek-oriented. In particular I believe the Blockstackers Intergalactic crew favors it.

It is also the distro most friendly to the root Free Software community, and one of the only ones to include the full name of the operating system, "GNU/Linux", while so many other people (including Linux.com) cheerfully omit the crucial first 4 characters. As one of the greatest friends of Stallman and Co., it would be a huge blow for them to come out against the FSF and the GNU Project and start removing GNU manuals from 'main' or 'contrib'.

That's why.

Take care,
--
Christian Sieber

Deja Vu (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768864)

This is just another attempt to undermine licenses that are protective of honesty and freedom.

Now who'd want to do this? Do you need more than one guess?

invariant sections that are secondary and optional only provide a means of protecting against MS rewritting who created the Free Software Foundation and such....

If you do not like a license then pick another or create your own and then deal with the choices others make about it.

In short, let Debian create their own version and RMS to point out the holes while MS finds and abuses the holes...

Documentation is different (5, Insightful)

amcguinn (549297) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768874)

The GPL was written for code, and it is very good for code.

If you've ever read interviews with RMS where he has been asked about copyright on things like music and books, he's usually very cagey. He tends to end up saying that there are interesting possibilities and difficult questions, but he's concerned with software, which is his area of expertise.

Software documentation is sort of software, and sort of literature. Writers of literature tend to be concerned about the integrity of their works more than writers of software, who usually expect their work to be enhanced and improved over the years, whether by themselves or by other people.

The GFDL is an attempt to manage the compromise between the freedom of software users to distribute derived works, and the need for literature writers to preserve the integrity of their works.

This compromise, of course is incompatible with the strict DFSG-type rights regarding software, and when a package contains code and documentation, the same requirements are applied to Debian by both.

I feel the answer is for Debian to relax the DFSG as they apply to non-program code. That's not simple to do, however. This is a fairly new problem, as it only comes from trying to make complete working distributions with professional quality documentation under GPL-like conditions, and it's going to take probably a few years to totally work it out.

I don't think anyone involved in this is insane.

time time time (-1)

sucko (257144) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768879)

Arguing over how many angles can dance on the head of a pin must be very rewarding work.

While you waste time shouting over the meaning of freedom, Microsoft continues to improve it's software.

Time is fleeting. What do you want to spend yours on?

Summary and analysis of GFDL and DFSG (5, Insightful)

CSieber (548526) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768881)

The problem, as summarized and debated in the linked thread (which you should all GO READ) is that you cannot take even a small part out of a GFDL document without including all the invariant sections, even if doing so would be pointless and irrelevant. Imagine, for example, writing an article in which you wanted to quote large portions of a GNU manual--so much so that it fell outside the category of "fair use." You couldn't do so under GFDL without including the political views of the GNU Project espoused at the beginning of every GNU manual. (I.e. "Free Software Needs Free Documentation.") It is this that makes the GFDL non-free by the terms of the Debian Free Software Guidelines. If invariant sections or front/back matter were removable it would go "a long way" to making it DFSG-free.

On the other hand, nothing in the core free software philosophy says that using copyright to protect political views and other things is in-and-of-itself bad. Remember, the reason that the crusade for free software was begun is this: Instant copying via computers means that it is now more beneficial to society to exercise their inherent right to copy, than it is to restrict that right to promote innovation through monopoly. What a mouthful. :)

Nothing about the Free Software philosophy says that every single thing ever written should be freely redistributable. If I write a political essay you better believe that I'm copyrighting it so no one else can change it. I don't have a problem with them distributing it gratis or for a fee, but they sure better not change my words around. That is what copyright is good for, and what the "Invariant Sections" in the GFDL is designed to allow.

For example, say I write a math text. In the introduction, I state my views on the current state of mathematics education and my proposed solutions, some of which are embodied in the book. I certainly don't want anyone changing that and passing it off as my authorship. To make my book properly fit the "Free" philosophy, I should allow 2 things:

  1. The mathematical content of my book be freely redistributable and modifiable by anyone. GFDL does this.
  2. Allow people to remove my "invariant sections" and whatever else if they so desire, but not to modify them. GFDL does not do this.
  3. Furthermore, I should be able to do the following and maintain harmony with the "free" philosophy:

  4. Prevent people from modifying my political statements or personal views which I included with the text. The DFSG does not allow this.

It is clear that while the GFDL is not up to par with the "Free" philosophy, the DFSG prohibits authors from exercising their right to protect their personal views and speech from modification. This right--to protect your personal views and expression (which source code is not, by the way)--is just as important to free speech as the freedoms outlined in the GPL.

In summary, both the GFDL and the DFSG have problems maintaining harmony with the "Free" philosophy as it should be applied to documentation. I think the GFDL has a fundamental problem with not allowing "Invariant Sections" to be ommitted, and the DFSG has a problem by not allowing an author to preserve personal views. The second problem likely comes from applying a software definition (the DFSG) to documentation. Source code is not the same thing as other writings, and the DFSG does not currently make a distinction.

Hopefully both parties here will realize what changes need to be made--and make them.

Take care,
--
Christian Sieber

"Freedom from" vs "Freedom to" (1)

blab (214849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768889)

This may be an appropriate time to write something that has brewing within the recesses of my mind for years... The GPL is about the Freedom From things. Freedom from having someone use the programs in something that is not "free'.

The BSD license is about the Freedom TO do something. Take this code & have a nice day.

"Freedom from" is not freedom, it is protection. It is a good thing[TM]. It really is. Our environment dictates such actions sometimes, but really, to call it free software is as accurate as the Iraqi Information Minister's various speechs. It is twisting of a good word and confusing it.

Remember, that I still claim it is a good thing before modding me.

dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768897)

Great, now linux is dying just like bsd. I guess I will format my linux partition with ntfs now and use WindowsXP exclusively.
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  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>