Bug#384019: manual-copyright clarification

Stefano Zacchiroli zack at debian.org
Tue Aug 29 07:25:33 UTC 2006

On Mon, Aug 28, 2006 at 11:25:00PM +0200, Bram Moolenaar wrote:
> None of the options is used.  Thus according to FSF this is a free
> license.

Good to know.

> > 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:
> 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.

It it not a bogus point, according to my interpretation of the license.
The text of the license states:

  All modified versions of documents covered by this license, including
  translations, anthologies, compilations and partial documents, must
  meet the following requirements:

  3. The person making the modifications must be identified and the
     modifications dated.

That "identified" to me sounds like forbidding the use of a fantasy
name; the dissident of the test will be breaking the license using a
fantasy name. Note that IANAL, nor one of the guy who decided the
license is not DFSG-free, still I can understand the point.

> > 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.

It is our problem, but is also a problem for our users, and I believe it
would be a pity for the vim community as well. Note that we are not
requiring to use "exactly" a particular license, we have guidelines for
what we believe is free, and several licenses are free according to our
guidelines. OPL simply does not happen to be one of them.

> Please consider losing the rules a bit, so that you can actually claim
> to have a "free" operating system.

... it is "free" precisely as long as we have the rules :-)
Note also that we, as package maintainer of vim, have no particular
power in deciding whether the license is ok or not, it is a matter up to
the whole body of Debian developers.

> > 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.

Well, there is the way of contacting both the author and the publisher
to see if they agree to license the text also under the terms of some
other license. Note that I'm not asking you to do so, we can do that.
But that would be pointless if you're not interested in relicensing
under another license the part of the manual that you have written by
yourself. Are you interested in that?

Many thanks for this discussion,

Stefano Zacchiroli -*- Computer Science PhD student @ Uny Bologna, Italy
zack@{cs.unibo.it,debian.org,bononia.it} -%- http://www.bononia.it/zack/
If there's any real truth it's that the entire multidimensional infinity
of the Universe is almost certainly being run by a bunch of maniacs. -!-
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