[Pkg-doc-linux-devel] Re: LDP "non-free" documents

Andrew M.A. Cater amacater@galactic.demon.co.uk
Thu, 10 Mar 2005 19:50:57 +0000

On Thu, Mar 10, 2005 at 02:31:01PM -0500, Emma Jane Hogbin wrote:
> Hello,
> I am the current maintainer for the LDP Author Guide. I'm working on the
> section on licensing right now. It has been brought to my attention that
> the LDP documents have been divided into "free" and "non-free" packages. I
> would like to give our authors a succinct explanation on the distinction so
> that they may choose the best license for their document.
> I have read:
> 	http://packages.debian.org/unstable/doc/doc-linux-nonfree-html
> and see that:
> 	The documents in this package fail to meet the Debian Free Software
> 	Guidelines for various reasons. For the most part this is due to
> 	significant restrictions on modification or on commercial
> 	redistribution, neither of which can be allowed for packages in the
> 	main distribution. See /usr/share/doc/doc-linux-nonfree-html/copyright
> 	for full details.
> I have read:
> 	 /usr/share/doc/doc-linux-nonfree-html/copyright
> and see that it explains why each document has been included in this
> package.
> Could you please tell me how you make the decision whether a document is
> considered "free" (I see how these specific documents are "non-free")? I 
> am hoping that there is some kind of (published) checklist that I could 
> point authors to. I have no problem with the distinction as some documents 
> are clearly not modifiable and cannot be redistributed, but I would like 
> to know by what criteria this distinction is made. The decision does not
> seem to be based on license alone as there are some GNU FDL documents in
> the "non-free" package, but not all GNU FDL documents are "non-free."
> I look forward to your response so that I may update the LDP Author Guide.
> thank you,
> emma
> -- 
> Emma Jane Hogbin
> I18N Coordinator, The Linux Documentation Project
> www.tldp.org


As a Debian developer, I was about to draft a long response to Rick
Moen.  If I may, I'll ask the Debian community of developers if there
is a.) an official distinction b.) an official contact for such matters
distinct and separate from the collective opinion of the debian-legal
list c.) whether I can draft a quasi-official response on behalf of the
Project.  Can you give me a day or so to poll Debian?

I can give the list my (unofficial,personal-but-based-on-experience)
take on these matters but, since it is incredibly easy to propagate 
inadvertent misunderstandings / mistakes via email and mailing lists,
I'd rather get some consensus before I come back - unless you'll take
my (unofficial) word in the interim?