FDL requirements for original author

Ben Finney bignose+hates-spam at benfinney.id.au
Sat Feb 9 11:03:21 UTC 2008

Sam Liddicott <sam at liddicott.com> writes:

> Thanks for posting the debian osition statement.

It's not actually a statement of the Debian position (though it was
drafted with the intention of becoming the official position); the
Debian project has no official position on this. The 2006-001 General
Resolution described an action to be taken by the Debian project
w.r.t. works under the FDL, but did not explain the position leading
to that action.

> I didn't know thw GFDL was that deficient, but it clearly is. Chers
> to those who contributed on debian-legal.

You're welcome. Feel free to continue the discussion, especially if
you can bring it closer to those who might listen at the FSF.

> I'm of the opinion that documents are open to interpretation and
> processing by man or machine just as software

Perhaps, then, you would agree that all digital information — i.e.
any bitstream (or "software", as opposed to its containing medium of
hardware) — should be released with the same freedoms that the FSF
currently promote only for programs, and that they should not attempt
to distinguish programs from non-programs to determine what freedoms

> My only explanation is that GFDL is written to solve a problem that
> isn't widely known yet...

As for that, RMS has made his own position clear as to the purpose of
the FDL's unmodifiable sections. The purpose is denying essential
freedoms to recipients of software that happens to be interpreted as

    The goal of invariant sections, ever since the 80s when we first
    made the GNU Manifesto an invariant section in the Emacs Manual,
    was to make sure they could not be removed. [...]

    Changing the GFDL to permit removal of these sections would defeat
    the purpose.


Others associated with the FSF have expressed contrary opinions. Eben
Moglen, for instance, made the insightful observation that:

    In the digital society, it's all connected. We can't depend for
    the long run on distinguishing one bitstream from another in order
    to figure out which rules apply.


I don't know how these conflicting positions are resolved within the
FSF. I hope the latter position gains mindshare within the FSF, and
that the former is rejected.

 \         “My girlfriend has a queen sized bed; I have a court jester |
  `\   sized bed. It's red and green and has bells on it, and the ends |
_o__)                                         curl up.” —Steven Wright |
Ben Finney

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