[scribus] 1.4.2 and Fedora 18

"Christoph Schäfer" christoph-schaefer at gmx.de
Sat Feb 23 10:15:10 UTC 2013


I'm becoming a bit tired of these never-ending and sneaky attempts to blackmail us into a change of the documentation licence just because you or one of your buddies don't like it.

> > We have discussed this over and over again in the past. The
> > documentation *is* free, but it's not fair game, i.e., you cannot
> > take it and publish a printed copy without permission from the
> > authors. That's basically the only restriction.> 
> having discussed this issue in the past does not seem to have solved it.
> it pops up again and again.

And who insists on exploiting this for his own agenda when it pops up?

> and i'm a bit puzzled, that you say that it's a non issue, but one of
> your co-authors, is complaining about the documentation not being
> included in his distribution of choice.

Greg didn't complain, he just mentioned that it's not available in rpmfusion, and, as you have learned by now, this is due to time constraints on the side of the maintainer (Dan Horák). We fortunately have a maintainer for Debian/Ubuntu on the Team for whom creating split packages has become pretty much routine for years now. We can't expect this from Dan, as he's probably responsible for a lot more packages.

Also, you were not "puzzled". Instead, you tried to insinuate that Greg questioned the documentation licence, which he didn't.

> blaming others projects because they don't bother enough to do some work
> to compensate a lack of freedom / separate packaging in scribus... is
> this the the way to go?

Now we're escalating the level of underhandedness a bit, don't we? I don't blame Fedora (or Debian, whoever) for their internal guidelines. I do not share their broad (or narrow, depending on your point of view) definition of freedom, but that's completely irrelevant. Our documentation licence seems to have become incompatible with their guidelines, even though it hasn't changed since the inception of the docs. Maybe Fedora's criteria have changed, no idea. But it has nothing to do with a "lack of freedom", as you insultingly imply (see below). If someone wrote a Scribus plug-in and offered it to us under GPL v. 3 only, we'd have to reject it, because GPL 3 is not compatible with GPL 2, yet both licences are considered to be "free". That's life.

> looking at the way the scribus documentation has evolved, i really would
> welcome if you could take the current documentation, make it really
> nonfree and do some real marketing for it. sell it!
> and, by default, leave a free documentation in scribus, one that is less
> complete than the one currently existing, but one that can be
> distributed with each copy of scribus. one that can be replaced by the
> commercial one, if the user has bought it / buys it. i have no problem
> with some publicity for the commercial version in the free version (if
> the sells at least partially go to the scribus project). and with "pay
> and download" button!

That's up to us to decide, don't you think? And I suggest an alternative: You ask someone to write a new documentation in his spare time, without compensation and on the condition that you will make it available for download with no strings attached (because that's what you really want), not even credits for the work. Then you can distribute your own fork of Scribus with this "free" documentation included. Good luck!

> (yes, there is enough stuff in the wiki to put together a basic free
> documentation...)

That's not correct, because the Wiki content is under a CC licence, which also includes restrictions (although much less than our own doc licence). And if it's so easy, why don't you do it?

> finally, one day, you may discover that when the rest of the world (or
> at least of the computer world) uses a well known set of definitions for
> free, saying "free but..." is very likely the same as saying "non free"
> for many practical uses.

Generally speaking, freedom can mean a lot of things, often contradictary ones. Perhaps you should look up the word in encyclopedias of philosophy, law, theology and political science. You should also read "1984" and "Animal Farm" by George Orwell. To paraphrase one of your many offending and vitriolic remarks in IRC: "reading skills don't hurt".

With respect to the world of software and digital content, the definitions of freedom vary widely as well (just ask one Linux and one BSD developer, for instance). What I understood from exchanges with you on the Scribus mailing lists, the bugtracker, IRC and off-list e-mail exchange, is that your definition of "free" means "no restrictions at all". The only problem is that something like this barely exists in the real world, which is to say that your ideal of "free" exists mostly in your imagination, i.e., your "the rest of the world" translates to "the rest of a fantasy world".

In general, we limit a hypothetical "total freedom" for every human being because otherwise we couldn't co-exist with other human beings. "Total freedom" would include the freedom to kill others, to steal, to cheat, and other things harmful to society. Hence our large sets of restrictions to freedom, enshrined in constitutions, laws, rules and, yes, licences. 

Maybe you should use only software and content with no restrictions in place, but be warned: Stay away from Linux and any other GPL-licenced software, because the restrictions are severe. You also have to to avoid BSD-licenced software, because there are licencing restrictions. Even MIT-licenced software comes with restrictions. If you are lucky enough to find an operating system to operate your computer, and software to actually use it, as Public Domain, you're out of luck as well, because even PD cannot be used without restrictions: You are free to modify and/or distribute texts written by Dante or Goethe, but you cannot claim authorship, since that would be fraud, so all of the above, like every regulated human behaviour, is, in your words, "free but..." and hence "non free".

And yet this is what you asked from me off-list some time ago and what all this is really about: permission for someone else to publish the official Scribus docs as a commercial print for their own profit with no strings attached and no obligation whatsoever to give anything back to the project! 

Please note that I acknowledge that you didn't do this for your own material benefit, but out of concern for the appeal of Scribus, but the road to hell is sometimes paved with good intentions. 

> this is the main reason why it's not a good idea to use a self baked
> free license for a free project.

Now we enter the next stage of underhandedness, because your statement is not true, and you know that it isn't! (There is a word for this, and I could have used an English sentence with two words, both of which consist of three letters) 

The Scribus documentation is released under the well-established Open Publication License (http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/), which is older than the Free Documentation License. Peter Linnell has explained more than once that it was a deliberate choice after careful consideration.

In addition to Peter's reasons let me add another one: The licence is easy to understand for everyone with basic English skills. I advise you to have a look at the FDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), written by FSF lawyers -- it makes your head spin. Yes, it seems to be compatible with Debian's and Fedora's licencing guidelines, and it permits printed copies, but you need a lawyer to figure out what it means. If you publish a book in print from an FDL-licensed work you are already with one leg in a courthouse as a defendant if you haven't consulted a copyright expert before!

> and this is why, despite deeply welcoming the idea that free software
> should restrict the use for military purposes, i'm glad that none of the
> mainstream free licenses has this restriction!

You should try to read and understand one of those licences. While not all of them have this specific restriction, they have others, and some are much harder to understand.

Finally, as a practical matter, many people have contributed to the documentation, and they all did so with the OPL in mind. It'd be necessary to obtain a nod for a licence change from all of them, which is unlikely to happen. And, I might add, your use of untruths, half-truths, misrepresentations and exaggerations didn't help your cause.

So, please, put this to rest and get over it. Your ideal of freedom as "total freedom" and as an easy opportunity for spongers is unlikely to match anything in reality, and it certainly discourages us (at least me) from changing the licence.


P.S.: BTW, it's perfectly legal to create an eBook out of the doc files, and we're being told over and over again that this is the future of publishing (and related profit). Go ahead and create an eBook from the docs. If you or someone else can earn a few quids, bucks, or whatever, fine with me. We only reserve the right to control dead-tree versions.

More information about the scribus mailing list