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Re: [off topic] Re: Licensing issues

>>>>> "t" == terry  <terry@albert.animats.net> writes:

    >> Let's be honest: The same is true of all 'official' Linux
    >> distributions.

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

Tinkered slightly may be the problem: I've heard RH is considering
branding derived editions differently to distinguish them from the
'official' release, but this still misses my point.  My point was
that the *physical* distribution, the box, the text, the colour scheme
and the logo cannot be duplicated or even simulated.  The physical
manifestion of their release is not free, only the aetherial content
of the CD.

    t> ... "Official" SuSE is only "official" as far as
    t> SuSE is concerned, not the wider Linux community for example.

With wider community considers the tux.org as an official distro, and
you and I cannot take that, change it, and redistribute it as tux.org
Linux.  We can, of course, the licence allows it, but it would be
foolish to do so.

    t> We are free at any time to go and produce a divergent kernel

Yes, divergent.   But we cannot directly change that distro, only
create a new one.  RH's changed kernel, for example, drives me nuts
with every release, but I know it is a RH kernel, not a tux.org kernel.

    t> Now you have me confused. What is 'official linux' in your
    t> mind? I think you're confused.

The linux that is produced from the Makefile in the Linux tarballs
you would download from ftp.tux.org.  If you prefer a different word,
call it the 'reference kernel' but the effect is the same:  All the
others take that, change it, but release it clearly as their own.

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

They don't want control of the content, or more precisely, I believe
they will eventually see they don't need it and will benefit more if
they let it go.  They do  need to have control of their box, though,
just as RH controls their box.  We can accept linuxconf as 'free'
even though it is put into a copyright and exclusive box, and we could
accept OPL docs, even if they are considered non-free when put down into
the publisher's box, because the content is free.

I know full well the situation is not perfect, but I wonder if there
is a workable middle ground.

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

Not at all.  The LDP would have it long before the publishing process
can run it through the mill and get it on to trucks.  That is the point
of it all: The LDP gets up to date docs to be distributed as freely as
software, with the odd restriction that you cannot *print* the sourcecode
as a single bundle of paper (which is, of course, absurd)

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

Let's hope so.  The first ones to crack this will be moving into an
uncharted realm, but then, so did RMS back in '94

    >> 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.

    t> Of course, that is because the wrapping, the name, and the
    t> documentation supplied are not covered by free licenses. 

Exactly, and that is the parallel I'd like to draw with the bound and
shipped book; they don't own the content, but they own the media.  Someday
I hope they will see that they can allow a competitor to take their 
digital content, wrap it with new covers &c and ship it, and the best
package will win, but they aren't going to accept that in their first
attempt any more than commercial shops accepted the GNU C compiler before
the LGPL.

    t> I don't believe the LDP stands to gain much by having commercial
    t> publishers come in at the expense of abandoning one of the most
    t> important underlying tenets of the LDP, freedom of the works.

I do.  I just spent 4 hours trying to find the answer to a simple
question.  I want to do what any small office does and integrate my
dialup, fax and voicemail.  So what modem, produced since 1995, will
work with mgetty+fax+voice?  The docs tell me to buy a ZyXEL modem
that has been out of production for years and now sells on eBay for
$10, and they leave off on USR modems at the 28.8k's

And it was from a commercial book that I learned to code a module,
since the khg only confronted me with far too many threaded emails to
sort out what is current from what is changed.  This is not right.

    t> Secondly, you then need to invent a means of dealing with
    t> territorial squabbles. If I, or the LDP, is to be earning any
    t> money from the published works then I'll have them printed by
    t> the most successful publisher please.

Absolutely, and that is where the responsibility goes to the publisher
to ensure they also get a return on their investment.  Their need for
profit will anneal to optimum distribution channels (and remember that
each has different strengths and weaknesses in these channels). You
should see them jockey for display space on Barnes and Noble!

I don't want this to be seen as an infringement or a criticism.  I
absolutely without reservation agree that totally free docs are the
future and the only logical path to success.  I was a fan of the
floundering Project Gutenberg when it had 3 docs in the collection,
I'm a personal friend of the McLuhan family (I have Eric talked into
writing some essays under the OPL), I studied with America's most
famous anarchist composer (John Cage).  I have no doubts the world we
want is inevitable.

I am just curious about a common ground because I know MCP is not the
only publisher who wants to do its business while giving a positive
contribution to the existing Linux community, and I really don't like
seeing watered down LDP docs being commissioned because the sponsoring
publisher is saving the good bits for their "annotations" --- I mean,
I like that they are paying LDP authors and giving them a chance to
make money doing what they love doing, and I've signed a lot of
authors for exactly this sort of work, but its the people who may not
have access to those books who lose if they can't get the real
information (in any form) without paying for it.

Right now, the LDP is the raw material from which all the publishers
are excavating ore, refining and coallating it, indexing and organizing
it, and then selling it solely for the benefit of the authors and the
publisher --- the information they list is not their invention, and
although the authors are doing considerable work to sift the broken and
outdated from the gems, I would be a lot happier if the end result was
folded back to improve the LDP in some way; right now, and I include all
of the publishers, we're being stripmined and outstripped.

Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@canada.com>  TeleDynamics Communications Inc
Business Telecom Services : Internet Consulting : http://www.teledyn.com
Linux Writers Workshop Archive: http://www.egroups.com/group/linux-hack/
"You don't play what you know; you play what you hear." -- (Miles Davis)

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