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The Grumpy Editor's guide to free documentation licenses

The Grumpy Editor's guide to free documentation licenses

Posted Oct 27, 2004 0:57 UTC (Wed) by piman (subscriber, #8957)
Parent article: The Grumpy Editor's guide to free documentation licenses

> An FDL-licensed work with no invariant sections and no cover texts is, by most peoples' reckoning, free.

"Most peoples'" is, I think, an overstatement. I don't know anyone (except possibly the editor) who thinks this, and doesn't also think that a document with invariant sections and cover texts is still free. The remaining problems are not fundamental to the FDL (I think), but they do exist in its current version, and present real issues. The definitions of "transparent" and "opaque" copies leave much to be desired (and prevent "transcoding" to a new preferred format, which the GPL allows), and the anti-DRM restriction prevents even simple things like transferring the document over an SSL-encrypted channel.

http://people.debian.org/~srivasta/Position_Statement.xhtml outlines these problems. It mostly focuses on the aforementioned invariant sections because those are usually the biggest point of contention, and the most complicated issue (and also more philosophically fundamental, while the rest are technical in nature). But there are other real problems with the FDL which make it impractical and non-free, that are all-too-often ignored.


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GFDL not good for free-software documentation

Posted Oct 27, 2004 23:50 UTC (Wed) by hmh (subscriber, #3838) [Link]

Indeed. Whatever the GFDL at its current form is, it is NOT a Good Thing when applied to free software documentation, unless we are talking about "external" documentation, such as books.

The GFDL has its place, even as it is now. But that place is well away from any free software project.

The Grumpy Editor's guide to free documentation licenses

Posted Oct 28, 2004 14:45 UTC (Thu) by jschrod (subscriber, #1646) [Link]

I don't understand your post, or maybe I do... Did you read the OP? It said "a work without invariant sections and without cover texts" is considered free. The context gives a reasoning - because then all the work can be changed and that is considered "free by most persons". Your reply starts with a personal account of people you know, but without any context and any arguments. Then you jump to a related, but different topic and write about "work with invariant sections and with cover texts" and you use "is still free" as an implication that the editor meant that.

He wrote explicitly about that topic. So, why do you raise that straw man? Just to post the Debian link? You might have just done so, with a subject line "Debian viewpoint" or similar, that would have been better and more honest, IMNSHO.

Joachim

Disclaimer: As a member of the LaTeX team, I'm biased when it comes to the Debian Legal folks or on any Debian viewpoint on "free licenses". I would have never had the patience of Frank or David to discuss license issues with people who insult developers with every email they write. They're more hilarious than rms, and that's sometimes hard to do.

The Grumpy Editor's guide to free documentation licenses

Posted Oct 28, 2004 22:36 UTC (Thu) by piman (subscriber, #8957) [Link]

> Did you read the OP?

Why are you so confrontational? Of course I read the original article -- I quoted it, and responded to it.

> It said "a work without invariant sections and without cover texts" is considered free. The context gives a reasoning - because then all the work can be changed and that is considered "free by most persons".

And I'm asking Jon why he thinks that. Most people I know who have looked at the FDL either come to the conclusion it's all free, or even documents without invariant sections are still non-free because of the issues I cited.

> Then you jump to a related, but different topic and write about "work with invariant sections and with cover texts" and you use "is still free" as an implication that the editor meant that.

I what? I thought my point was clear, but let me try again: In my experience dealing with the FDL, I find people who either consider it free, with or without invariant sections, and people who consider it non-free, with or without invariant sections. I do not find people who fit the editor's assertion of "most people", that think it's free without invariant sections but non-free with them. On the rare instances I do talk to such people, they are usually totally unaware of the DRM clause, and change their mind after learning about it.

> I would have never had the patience of Frank or David to discuss license issues with people who insult developers with every email they write.

I'm sorry you feel that way about some Debian developers. I have nothing but respect for the achievements of the LaTeX team, and apologize if you feel I insulted your efforts in any way. Not all Debian developers, even those on debian-legal, are Andrew Suffield.


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