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Re: A restrictive(?) LDP License

> On Sun, Oct 03, 1999 at 10:54:50PM -0700, David Lawyer wrote:
>> Well, here's what the existing Manifesto (without any revision) says
>> about this:
>>    LDP documents must be freely redistributable without fees paid to the
>>    authors. It is not required that the text be modifiable, but it is
>>    encouraged.
>> This means that all LDP docs may be freely distributed in any medium
>> (including printed form).  It means that anyone may make copies and
>> then give them away or sell them (and the author can't require any fee
>> to be paid to him for this).  However, while the author might have been
>> paid for writing the document, once it's in the hands of the LDP (on
>> our websites) anyone is free to copy it.  Thus if someone presents a
>> doc to the LDP and the license does not allow free copying and
>> distribution (copying is implied by "freely redistributable") then the
>> LDP rejects it.  This rule in force right now and has been for some
>> time.

On Mon Oct  4 00:45:50 1999  terry@albert.animats.net (Terry Dawson) wrote:
> David,
> I think you're reading a lot into that single sentence that isn't actually
> said.

I think that my interpretation is correct.  If I give one the right to
copy and say nothing further, I think that they may then copy it using
any medium and possibly any format.  (Note I didn't claim "format" in my
statement above").  It would be interesting to go thru all the howtos
and see if their licenses all conform to my interpretation.  I would
like to change the statement to something like: "Anyone may freely
copy and distribute (sell or give away) LDP documents in any media
and/or format.  Changes that are merely cosmetic are permitted.  ..."

The problem is that the existing licenses seldom (if ever ?) mention
"format" and "cosmetics".  It would be nice to have a requirement for
licenses that most all existing licensed would satisfy.  I started
reading over the licenses in the howtos and putting a one-sentence
summary in a list.  Some howto licenses are just GPL, others reference
the LDP-License (like the v2.0 which I posted).  Others docs give one
a choice of licenses (this can be confusing).  Some have no copyright
at all and it's not clear if they are public domain or not.

We can of course say that licenses issued in the 21st century must
meet new requirements and that the old ones may remain as they are
(but we can suggest changing some of them).  Since we deal with all
docs for Linux, we should at least link to docs that don't qualify to
be LDP docs.  What I'm going to propose soon (but not in detail now)
is the classification of licenses into categories (say A thru F). "A"
will be the best and GPL-like.  A, B and C we will accept.  "D" we
will perhaps accept if we need it badly enough.  "F" we will not
accept but may index it and/or make a link to it.

I'm not sure how many categories we should have nor exactly how they
will be defined and would like to postpone all discussion of this for
later.  Before going into this I would like us to agree on some kind
of a boiler-plate license and a simple criteria for licenses for the
manifesto.  This will be only an interim solution until we work out
DGPL and decide on modifications.

> For a start it is contradicted by the second paragraph of the 'Overview'
> section which talks about the LDP docs being 'freely available' in a similar
> fashion to the GNU GPL which specifically allows modification and derivative
> works not just encourages them. The freedom is more than freedom to
> redistribute.

But they are "freely available" even if some can't be modified.  What
I'm proposing is only an interim measure which will perhaps be
replaced by a requirement that a doc which is not being maintained can
be modified if needed to update it.

> Secondly it talks about 'documents' but does not define the term. I think a
> straw poll on the definition of document would reveal significant numbers
> of varying views.
We call it the Linux *Documentation* Project.  Are not we working on

> Thirdly, I believe that the LDP license conditions *must* allow modification
> of the content. This shouldn't be a negotiable condition. Again, it's
> extremely difficult to edit/correct/publish a document that doesn't allow
> you to modify the text.

I would change your *must* to "should".  I think that it's best to
allow modification but also understand why some authors want to
restrict/prohibit modification.  What I would do is to clearly label
docs the do not ultimately allow modification.  Then someone needs to
ask the author to at least allow modification if the doc is not being
maintained or if the author/maintainer can't be found.  If the author
will not be reasonable about this, then we should look for a new
author while hopefully retaining the old one temporarily.
> Lastly, I think we need to be clear that transformations of documents into
> other media/formats/etc. is also allowed. I don't think the single sentence
> catch all allows that.

Good idea.  I think the single sentence probably allows it but it's
best to be on the safe side and explicitly allow it.

> regards
> Terry
                David Lawyer

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