FDL (was: Free Music License?)

Simo Sorce simo.sorce at xsec.it
Thu Aug 18 17:56:27 UTC 2005

On Thu, 2005-08-18 at 19:16 +0200, Bernhard R. Link wrote:

> > Rewriting an operating system or rewriting a document/book are 2
> > entirely different tasks, and you either do not write OSs or do not
> > write books if you try to make such a silly comparison. Why do you think
> > each year get printed many thousands of new books and no OSs ?
> Thanks for calling my text silly. May I answer with a plea to read
> what I wrote before answering? Thanks.

Sure, you could if I were not in topic, can't I say your text is silly
if I think it is?

> As I wrote, I'm not speaking about books (And you assume right, I never
> wrote a book). I'm speaking about documentation for free software.

That's why I wrote "document/book", I know you're speaking about writing
documentation for free software. But your arguments can apply only when
the docs are so voluminous they can also be called a book, in other
cases I do not think there's any problem in rewriting a document if the
GFDL does not meet your taste.

> And I hope you will agree that there if definitly a large lack of it.

Yes there's a lack of it, but having seen how documentation is built I
can say I've never seen the licensing problems you cite, they are
theoretical problems, but I have never heard a real story of people
being unable to extend suitably an GFDL text because of license
incompatibilities, if you have such stories then make them public, they
will help in debating over real problems of the GFDL.

> > > Thus the information and its copyrightable containers in forms of
> > > sentences and paragraphs must be able to flow between all these
> > > different forms and ideally the source code of the machine interpreted
> > > code of the program, too.
> > 
> > And you can do that for sentences, and probably small paragraphs too.
> I may be able to do that for some stentences or for a small passages, 
> as that might not be enough to be counted as protected by copyright law,
> but I will never know which jurisdiction will allow me how much?

It's enough it is ok in your jurisdiction as the Berne convention
applies for others most probably and I do not think it is a big problem
to ask the single author of a sentence the permission to cite it. I do
not consider plausible a scenario where you want to cite thousands of
sentences, that means you're basically copying over a text not citing
> > [...offensive sentence interjection removed...]

Here and later, I do not see offense in my sentence, I apologize if
that's what it ended up, but I see that removing the sentence and
replacing it as you do may give the wrong impression to the casual
reader, I do not like tricks like this. 

> > [...offensive prephrase removed..] you can contact the author and ask
> > for permission to get substantial parts of a text and agree on a
> > different license [...]
> This might be good for a work from a single author, but gets harder
> the more the freedom is used and the more people contribute.
> Asking for another license mostly means that the license does not fit.
> Needings authors to agree later means the authors (or copyright
> owners) can allow or forbid me as they see fit. They have this right,
> but I'm reluctant to call anything requiring that "free".

So you are reluctant to call the GNU GPL free because you are required
to ask permission to the author if you want to copy part of the GPL
covered work in your BSD license covered work without being forced to
move to the GPL license yourself ?


> > > So please, whenever you have or feel to release something under GFDL,
> > > please consider dual-license it adding the permissions of the GNU GPL
> > > or any other free software compatible with the program documented.
> > 
> > No, you can't generalize like that. If I express my political views in a
> > paragraph, I want them to stay as they are, verbatim, that's why
> > invariant sections exists. If they didn't exist I would be forced to put
> > all the work under a verbatim license as I do not agree others can
> > change MY thoughts. So the GFDL is a lot more Free then a verbatim
> > license for instance and give enough freedom to change technical parts,
> > correct errors, update info in a text without falling in revisionism.
> Well, invariant sections are another building site. The GFDL makes it
> easy in this case to produce non-free documents that are more free
> than a verbatim license. In my eyes that is a disadvantage of it,
> as it keeps people from using even more free possibilities, like
> adding removeable invariant sections.

So if invariant section are "another" problem, which is the real
problem? Just license incompatibility with GPLed code?
I think invariant sections are the real problem and being able to remove
them may be good, there's obviously room for improvements in the GFDL
License, but it has born for a real need and I think your arguments
against it (when used for the right thing of course) are weak.


Simo Sorce - simo.sorce at xsec.it
Xsec s.r.l. - http://www.xsec.it
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