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Re: [off topic] Re: Licensing issues

On 19 Sep, Gary Lawrence Murphy wrote:
> I humbly offer that the notion of "anyone may modify" is ever so
> slightly misunderstood.  If a doc is OPL, a teacher can modify it,
> edit it, annotate it, and distribute it freely with very little fear
> of reprisal, but they cannot slap a cover on it and ship it to Barnes
> and Noble under their brand name.  Let's be honest: The same is true
> of all 'official' Linux distributions.

Of course they can. What you suggest is true for Linux distributions
isn't true. The RedHat distribution has been picked up, tinkered with
slightly, restamped with another another name and sold off. The GPL
specifically allows that.

Further, there is no such thing as an "official" linux distribution in
anybody's mind other than the organisation producing them. "Official"
SuSE is only "official" as far as SuSE is concerned, not the wider Linux
community for example.

> You or I cannot make a contribution to Linux.  It is closed.  Shut
> tight.  We are banned from making contributions.  We can modify our
> local copy, but only Linus and the inner circle can actually change
> the official kernel --- all we mere mortals can do is recommend

We are free at any time to go and produce a divergent kernel release if
we wish. The reason this hasn't happened in any tanglible form has
nothing to do with inability, there just hasn't been a big enough
justification for anyone to do it yet.

> This is why we have the issue of contacting the original doc
> maintainer.

We have the issue of contacting the original doc maintainer because of
copyright, not because of licensing.

> It is also true that we can create a derived Linux, which is what
> RedHat and others do when they apply their own patches and ship under
> their own brand name, but we cannot change any of those other derived
> Linux proucts, we can only derive our own.  Further, OpenLinux, RH,
> Turbo and the others are all derived works, but they are often not
> compatible with tux.org Linux; not even the mainstream distros can
> modify official linux.

Now you have me confused. What is 'official linux' in your mind? I
think you're confused.

> The publishers want elements of this: They want to ensure any changes
> to their 'official' edition are submitted to them as patches and
> recommendations, and my plan for their process is to also let them
> commission 'official' incremental revisions.

Hmm... I think in that case the publishers want to be commissioning
their own documents then. I can understand a publishing company wanting
to protect the value it adds to a document: indexing, editing, high
quality illustration, typesetting, binding etc. but I don't see how it
wins anything by wanting control of the document content.

> I want to see never-ending books, where the next shipment to Barnes
> and Noble contains all the latest patches.  The book never goes out of
> print; readers always get the very latest edition.  I am, of course,
> talking about a complete rewrite of the publishing business model but
> it would not be my first tilt at a windmill ;)

but you also want to see Barnes and Noble being the only people with
that up to date version of the book, right?

> this is how RedHat and Caldera carve their niche --- we are a long,
> long way from publishers seeing their world this way.

Heh, most of the publishing world is, some publishers have the jump on
the rest :)

> Keep in mind that I can create an LSL-like RedHat distro, but if I
> were to copy the package, CD cover and printed materials wrapping Red
> Hat 6.0 and put it on the shelf of a local bookstore, I expect I would
> hear from Bob Young's lawyers.

Of course, that is because the wrapping, the name, and the
documentation supplied are not covered by free licenses. You could
though, take the CDROM, put it in your own wrapping, write your own
documentation and perfectly legitimately put in a bookshelf. Which is
what LSL, and others, do.

> For the near term, though, and I am open to any alternative plans, the
> only path I see to that world is to let publishers 'adopt' specific
> documents, and the only consession we need grant them is ownership of
> the commercial imprints --- a rule which is actually only included to
> protect each publisher from their own collegues.

I can't see that working for at least a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I can't speak for all of the authors, but I think I'd refuse to
enter into any exclusivity with publication of any document I had any
authorship for. I'd rather the LDP carried on the way it is, after all,
people don't have too much trouble finding LDP material in printed form
if they really want it, until the publisher work out a business model
that suits. I don't believe the LDP stands to gain much by having
commercial publishers come in at the expense of abandoning one of the
most important underlying tenets of the LDP, freedom of the works.

Secondly, you then need to invent a means of dealing with territorial
squabbles. If I, or the LDP, is to be earning any money from the
published works then I'll have them printed by the most successful
publisher please.


terry@albert.animats.net, terry@linux.org.au

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