GFDL (was: EU Copyright..)

Jeroen Dekkers jeroen at
Mon May 6 14:06:09 UTC 2002

On Mon, May 06, 2002 at 12:23:16PM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> Alessandro Rubini <rubini at> wrote:
> > [...] A program usually has little "philosophy" in it, it's mostly
> > practical work.
> I thought the GNU documentation licence was intended for manuals?

It's intented for documentation. That documentation can have a section
about the philosophy related of the thing documented, e.g. the GNU
manifesto could be included to say why a specific GNU program was

> > [...] There is little damage to the original author if the modified
> > program doesn't work.
> If it works in an "incorrect manner", does it damage the original author? 
> Is the author harmed if their software is modified to help run and promote a
> detestable organisation?

You fail to see that a program is somethings functional and
documentation is not and you have to treat is like that.
> > [...] Such a document can be printed on paper, so the reader can't readily
> > get to the original document.
> Programs may be run disconnected from a network.

Documentation can also be read on the moon using software which runs
disconnected from earth's network. What's your point?
> > [...] And even if there is "prominent notice" of every file that has been
> > changed, it's rarely read.
> I think people normally read the author's names on the "cover".

But you say that the requirements to put the right things on the cover
are bad, don't you?
> > [...] I also think that "verbatim copying is permitted" is the best
> > license for non-documentation writings.
> That may be the case, if you purely want to spread your opinion.  It's not a
> Free licence, though, is it?  It doesn't help people to build upon your
> work, unless you allow "verbatim copying in whole or part with attribution".
> Despite its name, the GFDL appears not to give the full freedom to use,
> study, modify and redistribute.  

It the a free *documentation*, not a *free* software license. You are
naming things which are in the definition of free software.

> After thinking about this some more, I
> think Debian are probably correct to classify it as non-free and FSFE may
> wish to consider asking GNU to fix their licence, even only the name.

Debian doesn't classify the license as a non-free documentation
license, all documentation licensed under the FDL are in main and
there are no plans to move it to non-free. There is no reason the FSFE
should ask GNU to reconsider.

Jeroen Dekkers
Jabber supporter - Jabber ID: jdekkers at
Debian GNU supporter -
IRC: jeroen at openprojects
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