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Re: General Positive Feedback re: revision of site (fwd)

>I suppose we should identify problems with the current manifesto before
>re-writing it.  Some here have problems with it, others (like myself)
>like the current one.

The current "license" is total garbage.  As Linux becomes more widely
used, you'd better figure out how to make an accurate license, set of
licenses, or criteria for a license.  Otherwise people will line up
to sue or misuse you.  How is it garbage? Let me count the ways:

1. Most seriously, the current license does NOT permit others to
distribute unchanged documents, even though that seems to be
the point of the project.  That's stupid, and needs fixing.
Think that's just a minor legal nit and wouldn't be exploited? You're naive.
The U.S. in particular is lawsuit-happy.

2.. Two of the 5 bulleted items ONLY apply to one document: the
"Linux Installation and Getting Started" document.  Here's the text:
* Any translation or derivative work of Linux Installation and
  Getting Started must be approved by the author in writing before
* If you distribute Linux Installation and Getting Started in part,
  instructions for obtaining the complete version of this manual must be
  included, and a means for obtaining a complete version provided.
If you mean it to apply to all LDP documents, then say so.

3. The other three points have no useful effect. The phrase
"The copyright notice above and this permission notice must be
preserved complete on all complete or partial copies." is a wise thing
to say, but even if you didn't say that its legal status would be unchanged.
Also, absent any particular permission, you have to ask permission for anything
including translation.  Quoting the GPL, under its own terms, is always okay.

So, you have a license that can replaced with the empty string (for other
than the Installation & Getting Started doc).
Bzzt.  Bad license.  Bad, bad license.  Must be fixed.

A license is code executed by malicious programs that prefer to exploit
vulnerabilities in it.  And they get paid millions of dollars to find

Most people don't want to write licenses, and they're hard to get right.
At least provide a default" license & guidelines for minimum acceptability.
I'd rather write code & docs, not licenses.

>Personally I don't care what license you use, I just think that if you
>drop maintainership of a document that we (THE LDP) have the
>right to change the license. The copyright info stays, but the license
>itself can change.

If _that's_ what you want, then you must say so in a license.
Otherwise, the author has the right to never update a document again.
Which indeed is what's happening.

The LDP does _NOT_ have the right to change a document's license unless
the authors unanimously agree to it or its license permits it.

The copyright law says that an author has all rights to their product.
If they want to give some rights away (e.g., allow redistribution,
modification, or forking) then they have to say so.

BTW, an author can always create a GPL'ed document, then create a proprietary
version themselves.  So placing a document under the GPL doesn't prevent
the author from later sending it to a publisher under a different license.
The other way's possible too, though usually publishers have rights that
prevent it.


--- David A. Wheeler

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