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

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: Permission to use portions of the recent GNU Emacs Manual
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 22:09:43 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) XEmacs/21.5 (chayote, linux)

>>>>> "Bruce" == Bruce Stephens <address@hidden> writes:

    Bruce> As far as I can tell the XEmacs people aren't asking for
    Bruce> GNU GPL; the XEmacs manual is distributed under conditions
    Bruce> which look incompatible with the GNU GPL.

That is correct.  We are not asking for the GPL.  We are asking for
the GNU Emacs (v19, I think) documentation license, which was,
unfortunately for the current situation, anonymous and unversioned.

I think of this license as approximately a special case of the GFDL.
Because both require that any redistribution take place under terms
_identical_ to the original, they are, however, mutually incompatible.

Whatever the FSF might decide to do with its policy on documentation
licenses, it shouldn't revert to a license that can only be specified
by quoting the whole thing; it would be asking for this situation all
over again.  So no matter how you slice it, XEmacs would require an
specific sublicense from the FSF to incorporate portions of GNU Emacs
documents in the XEmacs documentation.

    Bruce> So presumably in 2000 the FSF chose to change the license,
    Bruce> and the XEmacs people didn't follow, either because they
    Bruce> didn't like the GFDL or because they felt they couldn't
    Bruce> (changing licences is obviously easier if one entity owns
    Bruce> the copyright).

As far as I know, it didn't occur to us to change the license.  There
was no discussion that I can recall until perhaps two years later,
which came to the obvious conclusion that changing the license was
impractical, and the discussion was immediately dropped.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
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              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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