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[libreplanet-discuss] GFDL with Invariant Sections or other unmodifiable

From: Michael Dorrington
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] GFDL with Invariant Sections or other unmodifiable parts. Was: Ubuntu malware: what to do?
Date: Sat, 05 Jan 2013 20:21:38 +0000
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On 09/12/12 16:13, Jason Self wrote:
> On 09/12/12 13:50, Michael Dorrington wrote:
>> On 08/12/12 17:56, Jason Self wrote:
>>> them to switch. Trisquel, for example, also meets the criteria you say
>>> and comes with both freedom and privacy included.
>> Trisquel contains non-free documentation:
>> This package contains unmodifiable (non-licence) parts.  You might be
>> better of with Debian 'main' which does come with freedom included.
> Specifically the GNU Manifesto. You want to change the GNU Manifesto
> around to say other things, like "Proprietary software is great?"

This threw me for a while as it is the GNU Emacs manual that has the GNU
Manifesto, the GCC Manual has the unmodifiable un-removable (aka
Invariant) section of "Funding Free Software".

For the concerns you give there are laws on misrepresenting someone and
even things like trademark.  Copyright won't stop somebody writing a
misrepresenting GNU Manifesto if they wrote it from scratch.  But my
point is about such licensed works being in a manual, rather than their
individual licensing terms.

> See 

Scroll up a little from the "options" section and the articles says:

"... recipes, computer programs, manuals and textbooks,
reference works like dictionaries and encyclopedias.  For all these
functional works, I believe that the issues are basically the same as
they are for software and the same conclusions apply.  People should
have the freedom even to publish a modified version because it's very
useful to modify functional works."

In '/usr/share/info/' from the above Trisquel gcc-doc

 (a) The FSF's Front-Cover Text is:

 A GNU Manual

So it is an FSF manual that isn't FSF-free because it has an parts that
aren't modifiable (excluding licences).  Invariant Sections (and Front
Cover and Back Cover texts) aren't even removable so people can't turn
them into free manuals. Of course the copyright holder can do these
things, which in this case is the Free Software Foundation, Inc.

> Trisquel does "FSF free", not "Debian free", not "Fedora free", not
> someone else's "free."

Because Trisquel includes GFDL with Invariant Sections in a repo which
is setup on install (I assume), I don't think it is doing what many
people, after looking into it, consider free and I don't think it is
doing it in the spirit of FSF-free, even if the practise differs.

For more info have a look at:


Part of the problem is that the FSF puts 'nice' content in unmodifiable
sections of their manuals.  What if someone wrote a manual for their
software which had content in an unmodifiable section that you found
particularly 'un-nice' but you found the program useful and wanted to
distribute the manuals to people at a stall.  How would you feel about
not even being able to remove the 'un-nice' section?

FSF member #9429
"The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide
mission to promote computer user freedom and to defend the rights of all
free software users."

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