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Re: [Savannah-hackers-public] GFDL

From: Francesco Poli
Subject: Re: [Savannah-hackers-public] GFDL
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 23:27:31 +0100

On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 02:54:22 +0100 Sylvain Beucler wrote:

> MJ, Sanjoy, Francesco,
> IMHO a secondary section cannot be that easily by-passed, but indeed
> I'm not a lawyer. Also don't confuse preventing addition of 'global
> warming' statements in derivates versions and accepting such changes
> in a project manual.

I know the difference: it's exactly the same difference between
preventing addition of unmodifiable code in derivative versions of a
program and accepting such changes in the official version of the
No license choice can force the /licensor/ to accept contributions (s)he
doesn't like.
On the other hand, preventing derivative works from becoming proprietary
is the primary job of copyleft.
A simple non-copyleft Free license (2- or 3-clause BSD, Expat, X11) does
not prevent such a "proprietarization".
A copyleft license (such as the GPLv2) does instead prevent it.

The GFDL doesn't fit well in either set of licenses: it tries to be a
copyleft, in certain respects, but fails, because it allows adding
unmodifiable *and* unremovable parts.

Not to mention the other issues (which are due to unintended
consequences of the license phrasing, rather than to the drafters'
intetions, I think...) that are enough to make *any* GFDL'd work
non-free, even if it has no unmodifiable & unremovable parts (that is to
say, no Invariant Sections, no Front/Back-Cover Texts, no Dedications,

> Similarly we would like Texinfo documents at Savannah to be compatible
> with the GNU manuals.

I would like GNU manuals to be compatible with Free Software, but that's
another issue...  :-(

> This is something we can't achieve if we accept
> GNU GPL manuals.

Maybe because GNU manuals are released under a license that is
GPL-incompatible and non-free?
Wouldn't it be much simpler if the FSF dual-licensed GNU manuals under
Or even better relicensed them under the GNU GPL v2?

Building (license compatibility) barriers between a program and its
manual is not a good thing to do and encourage...

> We do not impose a particular license, just
> compatibility, and we'd rather have people release such manuals under
> _at least_ the GFDL rather than not being able to reuse them at
> all.

What if Micro$oft approaches the FSF and asks to re-release GNU project
programs under _at least_ one license compatible with MS EULA (for
instance the 2-clause BSD)?
They would not impose a particular license, just compatibility.
So that they can integrate proprietary code into them and include the
result into Windows Vista...

The FSF advocates for copyleft, but at the same time, adopts, promotes
and asks others to adopt a license that allows adding proprietary
(unmodifiable and unremovable) parts...
Worse, the FSF itself includes such proprietary parts in GNU manuals!
The FSF is pushing the Free Software community in the wrong direction...

> We also require the GFDL'd documents to be version 1.2 or any
> later version so that any issue that can be found in the current
> version of this license will be fixed with the next one.

Personally, I'm not willing to license a work under yet unknown terms
and conditions. 

> In this regard, I asked what is the preferred way to send concerns
> about the GFDL in general. address@hidden would be glad to receive
> comments and use them for work on GFDL revision 3. DRM criticism about
> the GNU GPLv3 draft would probably also be useful in this aim.

There already have been so long and painful discussions with various FSF
people, including RMS himself, about the unfortunate GFDL issues, with
very little progress (or no progress at all)...
All this is really frustrating.

> This is not about accepting a non-free license (the GFDL is a free
> documentation license),

Naming it "GNU Free Documentation License" does not make it a free
I'm not aware of any definition or set of criteria or guidelines, under
which the GFDL qualifies as a license suitable for releasing Free works
of authorship.

> and this is not about rejecting free software
> at Savannah (we already do so by rejecting ASL'd software - until GNU
> GPLv3 is out, that is :)).

I suppose you're referring to Apache License v2.0
So you are currently rejecting works under this license, but at the same
time, setting up things so that the next GPL version will be compatible
with it. When the GPL is compatible with it, you will accept works under
Apache License at Savannah...
This puzzles me a bit: does the FSF like or dislike Apache License v2.0?
IIRC (I'm offline at the moment), the FSF lists it as a Free Software
license, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it likes it...

Anyway, why don't you act the same way with manuals under the GPLv2?
Publish a new version of the GFDL that's compatible with GPLv2!
Problem solved...

> Incidentally a dozen of existing Savannah projects Texinfo manuals are
> under the GNU GPL and hence affected by this.

Those project adopt a (good) license that is promoted by the FSF itself:
what's wrong with that?

    :-(   This Universe is buggy! Where's the Creator's BTS?   ;-)
  Francesco Poli                             GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4
 Key fingerprint = C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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