FDL again, was: My concerns about GPLv3 process

Frank Heckenbach frank at g-n-u.de
Sat Feb 11 04:09:20 UTC 2006

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:

>    There is no doubt that free software needs free documentation, even
>    FSF says this. If so, why does FSF allow restrictions to
>    modifications of documentation (using FDL) that does not allow for
>    software?
> Because such restrictions make sense, you don't need the right to
> modify my thoughts about why I wrote the book, or to whom I dedicated
> the book.

As this seems to be a center of your argument, can you back this up
(to use your favourite expression)?

Why should a dedication of a manual deserve different restrictions
than one of a computer program?

You might say because a computer program is functional. But so is
the main part of a manual (as has been pointed out to you). So the
question can be reformulated as: Why must a computer program be 100%
functional, and a manual doesn't have to be?

Technical differences don't really apply in most cases. An invariant
part could be included in most kinds of programs without hindering
their normal performance, such as being shown by a particular option
or menu item, or even on a startup screen (that a user who doesn't
want to read it can click through, just like a manual reader(*) can
skip over the pages with the invariant sections).

(*) To avoid any misunderstanding: By "manual reader" I mean a
    reader of a manual, rather than someone who reads with his
    hands. This might be clear from context, but you never know ...

Secondly, the question whether someone should be allowed to modify
your expression (or your "thoughts", as you prefer to call it), is
beside the point. Even a GPL work can be accompanied by an
unmodifiable text (GPL, paragraph 2, last sentence). There are two
main differences compared to an FDL work with invariant sections:

1. The former case would be two different licenses (GPL plus
   something else), the latter case would be "all FDL". But that's
   really just naming, as the FDL already gives two rather different
   sets of rights for the main part and secondary sections.

2. In the FDL case, the invariant sections are tied to the main
   part. You can't reuse parts of the latter without including the
   former. In the GPL+x case, you can. That's IMHO the main
   difference, so I'd like to know why you think having to include
   them is a good thing.


Frank Heckenbach, frank at g-n-u.de
GnuPG and PGP keys: http://fjf.gnu.de/plan (7977168E)

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