Debian and non-free (Re: Savannah rejects a project because it uses GPL)

Frank Heckenbach frank at
Fri Feb 17 06:52:05 UTC 2006

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote [pasted together from 3 mails, to avoid
sending too many posts]:

>    As I said, here we come to the area of definitions. If you want to
>    make your own, that's your right. But please do not contradict
>    people in a way like their definition is wrong and your
>    non-standard definition is the only way to truth.
> The only part that is inventing definitions is the Debian project and
> its developers.

Are you joking? Many people and groups invent definitions. E.g., the
FSF invented the definition Free Software (which is a good thing, of
course). You're actually refusing the FSF credit for their work just
to play your tiny word games, sad.

>    If you make me depend on this message, I want those rights. People
>    differ on what needs to be free, and I can accept different
>    opinions.  But if functional works are restricted, that might be
>    legal, but I'll still call it immoral.
> I think we agree here, I think.  But documentation isn't functional.

We've been through that already. It has been pointed out to you that
even the FDL speaks of a "functional work" [which can contain
non-functional parts, like an dedication, as you added, but this
doesn't change the fact that the main part of the documentation is
functional, and of course, the main part can be all of it if there
are no invariant sections or cover-texts, so even a weaker version
of your statement, "no documentation is 100% functional", turns out

> How can more freedom to change what I wrote be good?  Would you be ok
> if you for example wrote "I Bernhard R. Link like dragons", and then
> someone comes and changes this (the text is licensed under the GPL or
> similar) to "I Bernhard R. Link hate freedom"?  I don't think anyone
> has such a right.

We've been through that already. It has been pointed out to you that
these things are not covered by licenses. (Otherwise, someone could
do the same with some GPL software you wrote -- leave in your
copyright, and make the program output his rants.) These things are
covered by "droit d'auteur", diffamation etc., look in the archives.

Don't you understand the difference between a) modifying a text (and
stating that you did so, as required by GPL 2a), and b) claiming
that the original author wrote what you did?

> Anything that is of a digital nature is sensible to include in an OS.
> This does not mean that you, or anyone, should have the right to
> change for example the GNU manifest to state something entierly
> different, while still making it sound as if it is the GNU project who
> wrote it.

Again, the latter is not something a license should or can
effectively prevent, see above.

> Debian is cleary non-free, there is nothing to dispute it.  It isn't
> even based on a opinion.  It is simple to prove: Does the Debian
> project distribute non-free programs? Of course it does, see the
> non-free software section on their FTP site.

By the same argument one can say: The FSF is cleary non-free, there
is nothing to dispute it. It isn't even based on a opinion. It is
simple to prove: Does the FSF distribute non-free texts? Of course
it does, see the "verbatim copying" texts on their WWW site (which
are non-free according to any of our different definitions). -- It's
obvious that what you dislike about Debian is that they label the
FDL non-free. You can disagree with that policy, and you can point
it out. But instead, you keep making overly broad accusations
(against participants of this discussion as well as against Debian)
which make your arguments look silly.

Really, you might have some valid points. But as long as you keep
repeating your statements, including those that have been proven
wrong, of which I cited some examples above, you're not giving your
other statements much credibility. I suppose few readers would like
to keep a list about which statements of yours have already been
refuted, and which might be worth considering.


Frank Heckenbach, frank at
GnuPG and PGP keys: (7977168E)

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