Free Music License?

Jeroen Dekkers jeroen at
Thu Aug 18 20:12:53 UTC 2005

At Thu, 18 Aug 2005 10:57:39 +0200,
Simo Sorce wrote:
> On Wed, 2005-08-17 at 16:41 +0200, Jeroen Dekkers wrote:
> > At Wed, 17 Aug 2005 15:56:53 +0200,
> > Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:
> > >
> > > There is a perfectly valid reason in not changing a non-functional
> > > work, like my memoirs, or your toughts about how much you love
> > > butterflies.  You shouldn't be able to change what I or you thought
> > > about an issue.
> > 
> > What is this valid reason?
> Identity!
> Would you accept me quoting you in a mail but changing your words to say
> "I love proprietary software, you bastards!" when instead you wrote: "I
> love free software my friends" ?

No, but there is no reason to forbid this in a license. It's already
forbidden by defamation laws. Other than that, the problem might also
be solved in other ways.

> I don't think so, and this is a stupid example. Political thoughts are
> delicate and not being allowed to change MY thoughts cannot be
> considered a limitation of YUOR freedom, unless you consider freedom as
> being able to do whatever you like disregarding others freedom. 

It can be solved very easy: just make a requirement that modified
versions must be marked as such.

> > > There is also a perfectly valid reason in having invariant sections in
> > > a document, I might have written a document about how you twiddle
> > > frobs in a black box, and wish to give a note to everyone that my
> > > (non-existent) wife baked me cookies when I wrote the book and how
> > > much it helped me, and include a recipe for these cookies.  I also
> > > don't want to have someone modify the recipe to produce something
> > > horrible so that everyone will think that my wife can't cook.
> > 
> > So how is your non-existant wife baking cookies more important than my
> > freedom?
> It is a personal thought of the author, something intimate, something
> that have nothing to do with your freedom.

If this thought is forced upon me and the rest of the readers and
co-writers, then it is.
> > > I also might want to make this note to my wife non-removable, since
> > > the book would not have been possible without her support.
> > >
> > > For documentation, all this makes sense, for source code it does not.
> > 
> > Why?
> This is a question I would do too, why ...
> Now before you can even think about the answer you should first ask
> yourself, what limit to my freedom do something like that mean in the
> case of a _documentation_ book ? Are they acceptable?
> If you accept the limit on freedom posed by the GNU GPL (freedom to take
> parts of the software without sticking to the license) as a good balance
> you should think if an invariant section may be a good balance in the
> case of a document, a book, an article, etc ...

What do I get back? With the GPL it's pretty easy to see: more Free
Software. With the invariant sections, it's not really easy to see for
me. I know that g++ probably wouldn't have been there if the GPL
didn't require to free it. But would the GCC manual exist without
invariant sections? I think it would. And maybe my imagination isn't
good enough, but I really can't imagine that we would get less free
documentation if we wouldn't allow invariant sections to be removed at
least (which might be an acceptable compromise - although I'm not sure
about it).
> > > One can agree that not being able to remove the invariant sections can
> > > be a bit troublesome if you have 1000 people who add such sections,
> > > each adding their own anecdote about how much they loved (or hated) my
> > > wife's cookies.
> > 
> > Yes. Certainly so when people are going to add religous and political
> > text. So what are the reasons for having all these potential
> > troublesome things?
> Being Humans ?
> I think we can discuss the idea of letting people use the variant
> sections in other works, I do not see why you should be able to strip
> out all the invariant section from a book and still refer to the new
> work as it was the previous book. What kind of freedom to you get form
> that? Would you really do that? In which case? Why?

Nobody says we should be referring to the new book as the previous
book. But it's actually the GFDL which requires that! If I take the
GCC manual, modify it however I want, and apply the front-cover
clauses, I *must* put "a GNU manual" on the cover. So I'm even forced
to do it.

> > > To me the GFDL has other problems, namely, it being a overall complex
> > > document, far to complex to be grasped in the same way that the GNU
> > > GPL can be grasped.  If the GFDL has invariant sections, or not, is
> > > frankly a side issue which everyone seems to miss.
> > 
> > No, because I think my freedom is more important than the complexity
> > of a document. If a license is complex but grants everybody enough
> > freedom, that is far smaller problem than if a license takes away
> > necessary freedoms.
> Can you express which freedom of yours is being getting out by the GFDL?
> What about the author freedom? Where's the balance? Why people that
> whines against the GFDL has not yet been able to:
> A) explain clearly which is the problem in a public article so that all
> people can understand your illumination? 

It's pretty strange to hear on this list that caring about your
freedom is whining. But anyway, your statement that the people not
been able to do this is just false. Some Debian Developers wrote a
pretty clear article about the GFDL, to give an example:

To quote one part of it:

In addition to the simple restrictions of freedoms imposed by the
Invariant Sections, they also cause practical problems:

 * Incompatibility with the GPL. It's GPL-incompatible in both
   directions. This means that you can't legally extract text from a
   GFDL'ed manual and put it into integrated help strings in a GPL'ed
   program. And you can't extract code or comments from a GPL'ed
   program and put it into a GFDL'ed manual. (Without getting explicit
   permission to relicense from every copyright-holding contributor,
   that is.)

 * Being forced to retain inaccurate Invariant Sections (or Cover
   Texts, or Dedications).

 * Being forced to retain obsolete Invariant Sections (or Cover Texts,
   or Dedications). Dated invariant sections would exacerbate this

 * Possibility of obsolescence, via changes in technologies (such as
   the disappearance of printed matter, or the particulars of file
   formats and access restrictions).

 * Being forced to retain technically inappropriate Invariant Sections
   or Cover Texts, etc.

 * Being forced to retain Invariant Sections even in extremely
   space-tight environments (such as a rescue disks, reference card,
   PDA's, or embedded devices).

 * Being forced to retain untranslated Invariant Sections in a

 * Being unable to use material from the document for a new document
   whose primary topic is that of an Invariant Section (because the
   Invariant Section must be retained, and must be Secondary, but
   would no longer be Secondary). This issue, where it can be very
   difficult or impossible to repurpose chunks (eg copy a chapter
   about regular expressions when one copies the just the regexp
   code), is a significant degradation of freedom.

 * Invariant Section "bloat". The natural response to several of the
   above problems is to add new Invariant Sections, saying "I think
   the old Invariant Section is inaccurate/obsolete/offensive" or
   "This is a translation of the old Invariant Section". These will
   accumulate and will also be non-removable.

 * Difficulty in modifying invariant sections of GFDLed documents not
   under unified central control (need permission from many
   contributors or their estates/agents, which becomes more difficult
   with time).

> B) Propose a better license for documentation that address the same
> problem that the GFDL try to solve?

I've actually been thinking about it. The main problem is lack of time
and it wouldn't solve the current problems with all current GFDL
works. I also heard that the FSF might fix the GFDL.
> No, saying: "the GNU GPL is the right one because it grants my freedom"
> is not enough, sorry. 

Can you please say why we have this really big need for invariant
sections and why this need is bigger than all the problems just
mentioned? Because I haven't heard it and I asked for it in my
previous mail.

> > >    There is just no reason to accept such a restriction.
> > > 
> > > Just because you cannot see the need for such a `restriction' doesn't
> > > mean that there are good reasons to protect ones freedom to have it.
> > 
> > What are these good reasons? I still haven't heard this reason for
> > taking away my freedom.
> You should first clearly express which freedom is taken away from you,
> which freedom is taken away from the author, and why our freedom is more
> important then the freedom of expression of the author.

I don't see any freedom of expression taken away from the author. The
author still has the freedom to write whatever he wants. I'm not
forbidding the author to express himself. I'm just saying that I don't
see a need to give the author of a manual the power to force his
expressions on all future co-authors and readers of that manual.
> Please try to honestly answer to my question, if you can effectively
> explain me these things, I'm willing to think about them and perhaps
> change my mind. Please do not just rant for the sake of it, it makes no
> sense and just weaken your position.

My freedom to do with the manual what I want. It's the same thing as
with free software. There you also need to freedom to do with the
things I want.

I can give an example. I have a manual of a program. Now I want to
make a reference card based on the manual (so it's a derived work and
also falls under the GFDL). But this reference card has to include all
invariants sections, as a whole, because if it doesn't, I'm violating
the GFDL. 

Or what if the author of this manual writes that Bush is great and
talks about that everybody should support the Republician Party. Then
my freedom is restricted, because I can't remove it.

Now a question to you. If I write a political text supporting Bush and
print if everytime my programs starts up and write a license which
says that you can't remove that text. Would it be Free Software? And
if wouldn't, why would the same license be Free Documentation? Is a
documentation writer more important than a software writer? It's just
some questions I have asked myself. Personally I've come to the
conclusion that documentation might be treated a bit different because
it is a bit different than software, but that the basic freedoms
shouldn't be that much different.

Jeroen Dekkers

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