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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: Sun, 12 Dec 2004 18:43:39 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/21.3.50 (gnu/linux)

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

>    Why is attractiveness to commercial publishers, or reducing
>    benefits to free riders, important for the Emacs manual?
> To enable the FSF to be a `do what we do organization' rather than a
> `don't do what we do, do what we say' organization.

[Lots of other explanation deleted]

This is all very fine and explains the reason for both the GFDL and
the GPL pretty much equally.  It does not explain, however:

a) what precise purpose does the GFDL achieve for the GNU Emacs manual
that is not achieved by it being under the GPL (your explanation is
mostly about the contrast to Public Domain and/or BSD)?

b) is the difference this makes worth the trouble it causes?

c) in particular: is it a good idea to split a free project into two
parts with incompatible licences in a manner that makes it only
possible for the copyright holder to sensibly maintain the exchange of
material across the rift?  Do we really want to demonstrate how to do
such a thing in large scale?

d) is it a good idea to change a large body of free software (like the
GNU Emacs manual) to a different licence when it is well-known that
substantial forks exist for which no licence change is possible, not
least of all because the fork does not have the permission of the FSF
to change the licence for old derived material to the GFDL, even in
the case (which is not the current case) that they'd wanted to do it?

In short, in this manner we are creating an insurmountable border for
anybody but the FSF to past versions of the manual, as well as to
current versions of the Emacs code.

I don't like it.  This has nothing to do with liking or not liking the
GFDL itself: as I already stated it would probably be my preferred
manner of publishing a book that was intended mainly for publishing in
the first place, and that was not as tightly coupled with software as
most Texinfo manuals are.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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