Bug#384019: manual-copyright clarification

Bram Moolenaar Bram at moolenaar.net
Mon Aug 28 21:25:00 UTC 2006

Stefano -

> > > Do you think it is possible to relicense the manual under a different
> > > license? (The best possible is usually the same that applies to the
> > > source code of the program itself). How many parts are taken from
> > > Oualline's book? Is it possible to rewrite them? We are of course
> > > willing to help in that, but maybe we are luckily enough that no more
> > > parts took from the book are still in the help ...
> > 
> > It sounds like you are splitting hairs.  As far as I know the OPL is a
> > free license, since it allows distribution and modification.  What part
> > of the OPL makes it non-free?
> The OPL (meaning in this mail Open Publication License, since the same
> acronym is used for the Open Content License) is at the very minimum a
> license whose freeness is debatable. A few fact to argument this.
> * The Free Software Foundation itself consider the license as a free
>   documentation license ONLY IF none of the License Options are
>   exercised. I don't know what is the case of the Vim documentation.
>   See http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/

None of the options is used.  Thus according to FSF this is a free

> * The license is not OSI approved (it is not listed on
>   http://www.opensource.org/licenses/)

Don't see how that matters.  There are probably dozens of other
organisatiosn that don't list it.

> * The debian-legal as determined it as non DFSG-free (see
>   http://wiki.debian.org/DFSGLicenses#head-add2e754f3a906f07e4ff1c050a2548f04ef4cbe)

Debian people tend to spend more time on splitting hairs than others.

> This latter point is motivated by two, IMO minor, points (the first and
> the third of
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/03/msg00226.html), and by an
> additional major point, namely the license fails to pass the "dissident
> test" (see http://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html). The reason is
> that every modification to a document published under this license must
> be owned by an identified author. This is the verbatim text of the test:
>   # The Dissident test.
>   Consider a dissident in a totalitarian state who wishes to share a
>   modified bit of software with fellow dissidents, but does not wish to
>   reveal the identity of the modifier, or directly reveal the
>   modifications themselves, or even possession of the program, to the
>   government. Any requirement for sending source modifications to anyone
>   other than the recipient of the modified binary---in fact any forced
>   distribution at all, beyond giving source to those who receive a copy
>   of the binary---would put the dissident in danger. For Debian to
>   consider software free it must not require any such excess
>   distribution.

This is a bogus point in my opinion.  Since copyright is automatically
given by creating something, every text should have the author mentioned
and/or is automatically associated to it.  Thus this is actually implied
in every created work, no matter if it is mentioned in the license or
not, since law goes above a license.

The solution is to use a fantasy name for the author.  There is nothing
to stop someone from doing that, as far as I know.  And the license used
is irrelevant.

> While I think (but this is a personal opinion) that the minor points
> could be ignored for inclusion of the vim documentation in the debian
> distribution, I don't think the latter aspect could be. We would
> probably be forced to remove the vim documentation from the debian
> distribution, moving it to non-free :-(((

I think that's your problem.  Requiring authors to use exactly the
license you approve of is actually close to dictatorial behavior.
Please consider losing the rules a bit, so that you can actually claim
to have a "free" operating system.

> Since I don't want that ... while on the Debian side I'm trying to get
> comments from the people responsible of accepting stuff into the archive
> ... on the "Bram" side I would like to know how hard it would be to
> relicense the manual under a different license.
> Could you please comment on that?

In my opinion the docs go under a free license, I don't see a reason to
change it.  And I actually can't change it, since I used text from Steve
Oualline's book in the user manual, and that text uses this license.

- Bram

hundred-and-one symptoms of being an internet addict:
256. You are able to write down over 250 symptoms of being an internet
     addict, even though they only asked for 101.

 /// Bram Moolenaar -- Bram at Moolenaar.net -- http://www.Moolenaar.net   \\\
///        sponsor Vim, vote for features -- http://www.Vim.org/sponsor/ \\\
\\\        download, build and distribute -- http://www.A-A-P.org        ///
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