Permission to use portions of the recent GNU Emacs Manual
Robert J. Chassell
bob at rattlesnake.com
Tue Dec 14 15:19:29 EST 2004
... My issue is not with the GFDL per se. My issue is that it is
not GPL-compatible, yet we use it for something that forms an
integrated and tightly coupled part of Emacs and evolves with it.
And that defeats the "Public" in GPL since it requires the copyright
holder for normal maintenance work of derived versions.
I do not understand you. First, the GFDL is not for code. Second,
anyone can change the body of a GFDL's work.
This means that you can modify code under the GNU GPL and then
document your modification. And you may distribute the result,
attempting to charge if you wish for both code and documentation. Or,
of course, you may give away both. You have the freedom.
The copyright holder is irrelevant. The only parts you may not
legally change are parts that do not deal with the subject.
This kind of invariance makes sense. The invariance means either that
an author wrote something about the document, like why he wrote the
first draft, or that an initial publisher used `non-recoverable or
rivalrous resources'. The latter is the key new feature: it is
designed to restrict other publishers free riding, but not to stop
them from manufacturing and distributing copies of the work.
Previously, invariant sections were an ad hoc part of documentation
licenses. True, they usually were not aimed at encouraging a
publisher (using non-recoverable or rivalrous resources) a little bit,
but without legally excluding all other publishers as the "Creative
Commons license with commercial restriction" does. That is the main
new feature; and it could have been implemented in previous
Generally, people and organizations charge if they lose resources for
each item distributed and do not treat the used resources as a `lost
leader'. Thus, book publishers give away some books as lost leaders
in order to gather attention and charge for the rest. But if they
give away resources and never recover them, they will go broke if a
book is successful.
For the past half millenium, in Europe and in derived countries like
the US, the method for recovering resources involved in books has been
to prevent others from legally charging for copies that they produce.
If necessary, police enforce this ban.
The GFDL is different. It does not create a ban, but puts up a
barrier (that is what the front and back cover text requirement is
about). The goal is that the barrier be somewhat high, but not too
high. In contrast, the "Creative Commons license with commercial
restriction" and similar licenses put up a ban.
Please explain further how GFDL actions defeat the "Public" in GPL,
especially since invariant sections have existed in the licenses for
Robert J. Chassell
bob at rattlesnake.com GnuPG Key ID: 004B4AC8
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