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

Terry Dawson wrote:
>>>>Is there any good reason why we can't use the OpenSource Definition?

David Lawyer responded:
>>>Yes.  First, it's for software, not docs.
(I think this is a weak argument on my part and will now argue based only 
on my second point David L.)

David Wheeler wrote:
>The OSD (http://www.opensource.org/osd.html) is obviously focused on
>executable source code, but it's not clear to me that's a fatal problem.
>Lots of definitions of "software" include "documentation."
>Even more interestingly, when you use SGML the distinction (and issues)
>of "source" vs. "object" code still apply.  The advantages of referring
>to a well-known, heavily-discussed, and widely-understood definition are

It is not widely-understood.  It's so ambiguous that no one really
understands it.  Can you point me to where the ambiguities in it are

>you could easily add a clarification that redefines documentation
>(in the form usually edited) is treated as source code.

>>> But mainly it does not require
>>>that licenses be free.  It doesn't even have a requirement that a license
>>>must permit one to make copies.  If you cant copy it, you can't even put
>>>in on a website.
>I don't understand this comment.  Point #1 is "Free redistribution", and

Here's what it says:
1. Free Redistribution

   The license may not restrict any party from selling or giving away the
   software as a component of an aggregate software distribution
   containing programs from several different sources. The license may
   not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

Does this permit one to make copies?  Well, it certainly doesn't let
you make copies of a single document (because that's not an
aggregate).  Copyright law prohibits one from copying unless the
license says you can do it.  Does the "Free Redistribution" clause let
you make copies of an aggregate of documents "bound" together?
Perhaps.  But there's some ambiguity even for this special case.  One
way to explain this (and more) is by the following example:

Suppose there is a license definition which lists a number of things
that the license may not restrict.  There are two loopholes in such a
"definition".  One is for a license to restrict something that the
authors of the definition never thought of.  For example, a
termination clause was considered to conform to OSD because there was
no restriction of using one in OSD.

Another possible loophole would be to issue a a license that only said
"Have a nice day".  Does such a license restrict anything?  Some might
say it doesn't.  Then such a license conforms to the definition
because it restricts nothing.  But unfortunately for the consumer,
copyright law does restrict anyone from copying, distributing, or
modifying the work.

Now it's argued that since copyright law exists, the "Have a nice day"
license does restrict one and that it is necessary to explicitly allow
certain things (such a free copying) in the license.  If this be the
case, why did not the definition simply state that "the license must
explicitly permit copying", etc.?

I'm going to try to come up with definitions that are clear and not
ambiguous in this respect.  Now I'll write some of my thoughts on the
Manifesto which will be in a forthcoming message.

>point #3 is "Derived works".  

A full discussion of OSD would be very long and I don't think we should go
into it now.  But if you want to, read over OSD keeping in mind what I
said above. 

To my knowledge, the open source definition
>_requires_ that licenses be free.

This is a very common misconception.

>Did you mean that the
>"sample license" on linuxdoc doesn't require licenses be free?

No, but it's not a very good license.  BTW, it's not the LDP License
that was mistakenly removed from our website.

                David Lawyer

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