FDL requirements for original author

Ben Finney ben at benfinney.id.au
Wed Feb 6 21:58:32 UTC 2008

On 06-Feb-2008, hwe wrote:
> > It depends on what is it you like about FDL.
> Foremost freedom 0, freedom 1, freedom 2, and freedom 3. Then the 
> copyleft.  And the clear delineation of modifications.  So I don't 
> think it's fully fair to say he "does not want his work to be free."

If the copyright holder believes freedom 3 to be valuable, this is 
incompatible with refusing to distribute the source code to 
recipients. Access to the source is a precondition of freedom 3.

> Please keep in mind this is about text.  Contrary to a program, no 
> information is "hidden" in the source.

It's just as easy to say that a program, in binary form, has no 
information "hidden" in the source. A sufficiently determined 
recipient can always derive an equivalent source that will compile to 
the same binary form.

This is a bogus argument for programs, and it's a bogus argument for 
any other software work. Access to the corresponding source code to 
the work is a precondition to meaningful exercise of freedom 3.

> Anyone who knows LaTeX can easily tell the few \section, \emph or 
> \footnote tags -- the only opaque words.

Being able to guess at the source, while not receiving that source, is 
not satisfying freedom 3. The recipient needs full access to the 
corresponding source form of the work, not merely the freedom to 

Furthermore, if the copyright holder actually believes "no information 
is hidden in the source", then that leads to the conclusion there is 
no good reason to hide the source from the recipient.

> It's not, also freedom 3 should be included.  I fully agree the .tex 
> /should/ be published, to not complicate derivatives.  (Frankly, I'm 
> not sure why showing the .tex is an issue.  I guess it's just not 
> written as nicely as everything else he shows.)

If you don't understand what's keeping him from satisfying freedom 3, 
that seems an important avenue of inquiry. You can't recommend a 
license text to him until you understand what it is he wants.

>  > disappointed by more non-free-software discussion on FSFE's list
> @MJ Ray: I've read your opinion on the FDL, and actually in some 
> respects I agree.  Yet the FDL is part of the GNU project.  If GNU is 
> not to be discussed at FSFE, what is?

I interpreted MJ Ray's comment on "non-free-software discussion" to 
refer to the fact that you're discussion how to satisfy someone's 
desire not to reveal the source code to their work (an eminently 
non-free requirement). I might have interpreted his comment 

 \                "I got fired from my job the other day. They said my |
  `\    personality was weird. ... That's okay, I have four more."  -- |
_o__)                                        Bug-Eyed Earl, _Red Meat_ |
Ben Finney <ben at benfinney.id.au>
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