anelok: new and enhanced Y-Box (draft)

Bas Wijnen wijnen at debian.org
Sat Jan 18 09:36:35 EST 2014


Ok, everyone who prefers to ignore legal speak, please ignore this mail.
;-)

I get the feeling there's some confusion about the licenses, so I'd like
to tell what I think to know about it.  I don't guarantee correctness,
and IANAL. :-P

On Sat, Jan 18, 2014 at 04:26:09AM +0100, EdorFaus wrote:
> On 01/17/2014 12:03 PM, Werner Almesberger wrote:
> >EdorFaus wrote:
> >>... Although, hm. A bit of looking around shows that CC-BY-SA is not
> >>compatible with the GNU GPL.

Debian's stance on this is that any CC license before 3.0 is not even
considered free.  CC-SA and CC-BY-SA are free for 3.0 licenses, but
indeed incompatible with the GPL.  For that reason, I think
documentation is often dual-licensed.

Note that citing a piece of code in the documentation would be allowed
even with a very restrictive (and incompatible) license on the code,
because it's fair use.  If the documentation wants to use large parts of
the code, it probably makes more sense to point to it instead of
including it anyway.

In short, I don't think there is a problem to dual-license the
documentation.

The other license that was mentioned is GFDL.  That one deserves some
explanation.

It is much like the GPL, but it has an extra option in it: it may
contain "invariant sections", which are pieces of text that may not be
changed and may not be removed from derivative works.

This seems like a very non-free clause, and it is the reason Debian does
indeed consider the GFDL to be a non-free license.  However, it's not as
crazy as it sounds.

The point of using a copyleft license is (for many people) to try to
make a change in the world.  As an author, you donate your work to the
community in an attempt to build that community.

The fight between philosopher/idealist Richard Stallman and
engineer/pragmatist Linus Torvalds made very clear that the message of
the GNU project, that software should be free, needs to be told (if you
care about it).

This is exactly what the invariant sections are meant for.  It allows
GNU documentation to contain the GNU manifesto, and derivative versions
must include it as well.  The GPL makes sure that the freedoms are not
only valid for the person directly receiving the work, but also for
anyone receiving it indirectly.  Similarly, the GFDL makes sure that
such an important message is not only received by the first recipient,
but by anyone who gets access to it.

I'm not proposing to use the GFDL.  I think the fact that it is
GPL-incompatible is too large a restriction.  I just wanted to explain
what its background is.  Because unfortunately many people seem to
consider the invariant sections evil, while they are very much meant to
improve the world.

> I'm not sure if it's really a significant issue in practice, and my
> search results also indicate many just ignore the issue and combine
> them anyway, whether or not that's technically legal in their case.

I am inclined to start doing that as well.  Many people who license
things as CC-SA or GPL really don't care that much, and just want the
spirit of copyleft.  They're not going to start lawsuits anyway, and
certainly not as long as the result is still copyleft.

> >>P.S. Things would be *so* much simpler if only everyone could use
> >>CC0 instead of all these other licenses... Fat chance of that
> >>happening though.

CC0 doesn't do copyleft.  It's a statement of "I think this is
worthless, but if you can use it, more power to you".  (Obviously that's
my interpretation.)  A copyleft license, on the other hand, says "I made
something valuable, and I donate it to the community without allowing
people to use it against that community".

> Yeah, that's pretty much precisely what I meant - it would be nice
> if we could, but in practice, we *can't*, so we won't. No matter how
> complex that makes things.

So I think we're mostly in agreement, except that I don't think it would
be nice if everything was CC0.  Well, unless there wouldn't be any "bad
guys", but that is so unrealistic that I don't even consider it. :-P

> It's basically the same line of thinking as I have with regards to
> the core tenet of communism. It's a rather nice-sounding idea, IMO -
> but it doesn't work in practice. We humans simply aren't built for
> it.

I have more hope for "most people want to help each other" (the basis of
communism) than "nobody wants to take personal profit from harming
others".  Especially in a non-communist society. ;-)

Thanks,
Bas



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