Subject: Re: FSBs and mechanized documentation
From: simo <s@ssimo.org>
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 09:22:36 -0500

On Thu, 2006-03-09 at 15:47 +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "simo" == simo  <s@ssimo.org> writes:
> 
>     simo> On Wed, 2006-03-08 at 13:36 -0800, Ben Tilly wrote:
>     >> I suspect that Stephen is talking about the anti-DRM provisions
>     >> in GPLv3.
> 
>     simo> But that's about distribution not use as far as I can tell.
> 
> The FDL allows authors to restrict your use of documentation to a
> combination of whatever you want to use it for, plus their advertising
> or advocacy vehicle.  You can say that's only effective if you
> distribute; I reply that it *is* an effective restriction on use if
> you distribute.[1]  It is precisely this restriction that forces the
> FSF to declare that the FDL is _not_ a free software license.
> 
> So documentation is a second-class citizen, undeserving of the
> privileges and attention granted to code ... which is a *problem*, the
> problem this thread is intended to address.

I do not want to comment on the FDL, I agree it has many problems.

> The GPLv3 declares "this software is not part of an effective
> mechanism" (or whatever the formal statement is).  That is an explicit
> restriction on use.

Why ? It does not stop you to use it as a circumvention mechanism.
That phrase, on the contrary, is to escape limitations on the use you
can do of GPL code as enforced by DMCA if you recognize it is an
effective anti-circumvention mechanism.
It is just a definition, not a limitation to what you can do with the
code.
To me, it is the same as stating: the GNU GPL is not a proprietary
license.

> Footnotes: 
> [1]  Note the implication of the interpretation that it's "only
> effective if you distribute" is to restrict "use" to *private* use.
> The effect of this interpretation on the FSF assignment's giveback
> clause is not pleasant.  The alternative is to declare that "when we
> use the word 'use' it means what we want it to mean".  Urk.

It really depends on what you mean by use. The GPLv3 provision about
anti-circumvention mechanisms do not prevent you to distribute it, or do
not force you to use it privately. And if you feel that the outcome
maybe a restriction on use I think you should add a comment in the GPLv3
comment system on gplv3.fsf.org
The FSF is looking forward to address exactly this kind of issues and
produce a new draft soon.

Simo.