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Re: Permission to use portions of the recent GNU Emacs Manual

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Permission to use portions of the recent GNU Emacs Manual
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2004 21:19:08 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/21.3.50 (gnu/linux)

"Robert J. Chassell" <address@hidden> writes:

> In any case, please do not help the bad guys passively, when you can
> help the good guys passively (except for a fairly short time when
> you choose licenses and/or handle legal paper work that is imposed
> on you by the bad guys).

Well, but that's no reason to cheer the good guys when they are
shooting themselves and their friends in the foot.

Anyway, could we keep off the picturesque rhetoric?  If there is
nothing new to say about the topic, nothing is gained by repeating the
already said things in an obfuscated way.

I guess we more or less got our differing points of view presented.

We have two different problems:

A) Emacs changed its manual licence from the old licence to the GFDL,
   and XEmacs can't or does not want to easily follow suit without
   contacting _their_ contributors.

B) Both the old as well as the new Emacs manual licence are
   GPL-incompatible and thus present problems for integrating work on
   the manual and the code for derived works that are not copyrighted
   all by the same legal entity.

It would appear to me that "A" is not something that we can reasonably
deal with in isolation: if we accompany every change of the licence of
the Emacs manual with an exception for old times' sakes, there is no
point in changing the licence in the first place.

However, A is in some manner an outgrowth of problem B, and if we got
B solved in a satisfactory way, it might mean that XEmacs developers
(like everybody else) would need to adapt at most _one_ more time.

One proposal of mine was dual GFDL/GPL licencing which still has the
disadvantage that third party code can be pulled into the manual by
others only while sacrificing the GFDL licence, so we probably will
still have the FSF as the primary responsible (non-public) source for
GFDL manuals.  It has the advantage that it can be accomplished rather
fast, and the disadvantage that it does not seem to solve any of the
more _urgent_ problems right now (certainly not the problem of the
XEmacs developers, except that they might be less uncomfortable with
the necessary relicensing then).

On the long run, I'd hope that the next version of the GPL would
become suitable to cover the generated of printed manuals in a
satisfactory way without the need for a separate licence.  However,
this will take quite long, and it does not appear to me that Richard
thinks it feasible at all.

Other choices are to let things stay as they are right now.

All of those choices don't look very appealing.  And there is little
sense in dressing them up with rhetoric about how free software and
its licences are either great or completely irrelevant.  Whether they
are great or irrelevant, we still have to pick them, and the cases
have more or less been made.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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