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Do not count out the FDL for your next book

Do not count out the FDL for your next book

Posted Oct 27, 2004 7:36 UTC (Wed) by atai (subscriber, #10977)
Parent article: The Grumpy Editor's guide to free documentation licenses

The FSF listens to people. The FSF may address your criticisms in the future versions of the FDL.


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Do not count out the FDL for your next book

Posted Oct 27, 2004 16:31 UTC (Wed) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

I've known, worked with, and argued with RMS for many years, and I wish I could agree, but I'm not hopeful. The Debian objections to the GFDL have been out for at least a year; moves to fix the problems have not made any progress.

There are two classes of problems with the GFDL: one class are technical difficulties, and the other class are fundamental differences of opinion. The DRM-related problems, one could argue, are just mistakes that could be corrected without anyone losing face. It appears that the goal was to prevent people from using DRM to make an allegedly-free document uncopyable; it would suffice to say that if you provide a DRM copy, you have to tell people how to get an unencumbered copy. Some of the other issues Debian has complained about can also be solved without too much difficulty.

The invariant sections issue, though, is one that I can't imagine RMS giving any ground on. I'm afraid that the best we'll be able to do is get a fixed GFDL in which a document that lacks invariant sections and cover texts could be agreed by everyone to be free. Then everyone could agree that, for example, the Gnome documentation is free.

RMS has also suggested that the problem of GPL-GFDL incompatibility could be remedied by a combined license, good for both software and documentation. It would be a complete disaster if the combined license were considered by any influential group (such as Debian) to be non-free. I don't think that this would happen in the end, as the FSF would lose most of its volunteers, and RMS is more pragmatic than he is sometimes given credit for. But just the fear that this would happen is good reason to try to fix the GFDL first.

I think that the "open source movement" has made RMS more determined than ever to stick with the "invariant sections" doctrine, since he sees open source as free software without the free software principles, and he is determined to spread the word about what he sees as the principles.

Do not count out the FDL for your next book

Posted Oct 28, 2004 22:16 UTC (Thu) by atai (subscriber, #10977) [Link]

Never say never :-)


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