[scribus] 1.4.2 and Fedora 18

"Christoph Schäfer" christoph-schaefer at gmx.de
Sun Feb 24 07:54:10 UTC 2013

Szia László,

> On 02/23/2013 11:15 AM, "Christoph Schäfer" wrote:
> > Alessandro,
> >
> > 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.
> ...
> ...
> I was not happy to read this thread. I appreciate the work of both 
> Christoph (I've bought a copy of "The official manual"), and a.l.e who 
> contributed a _lot_ to this list and helped to answer hundreds of 
> questions here. Scribus is well known, but not large enough. The use of 
> this style hurts the whole project imho.

I wasn't happy either, but there's a back story (actually more then one) to this, which I'd prefer to forget, but unfortunately it surfaced again. There's a limit to the amount of slurs and insults people can endure, and when it comes to outright and deliberate misrepresentations, it may be necessary to set the record straight from time to time.

> I think we need a more pragmatic view about the docs licence. Every 
> decision you make in your life has benefits and drawbacks associated 
> with it. No decision is "right" per se. While I completely understand 
> the reason why that particular licence was chosen for the docs, I still 
> have to say it was unusual, and considering all effects not a good 
> choice. It solves one problem, but it creates some others. This is not 
> the first time distributions drop the docs of scribus because of the 
> licence. And scribus is not very easy to learn, let's face that. So the 
> licence hinders the acceptance of scribus. You may argue that this 
> shouldn't have happened, and the people who compile the distros 
> misinterpret the licence, and that they are simply not right. But that 
> keeps happening.

I do not think for a second that the maintainers misinterpret the licence, quite the contrary. Most distributions follow the big ones like Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSUSE, and these employ corporate lawyers who check every licence for compliance with their internal standards. Unfortunately, these standards can vary, which means, among others, that under Debian's rigid rules the docs have always been considered "unfree", now seem to have been marked as "non-free" in Fedora, while OpenSUSE considers them as in accordance with their community standards. 

This has nothing to do with "free" or "open", but with opinions of the respective lawyers involved and community guidelines. Just to give you an example, we had a request for clarification from OpenSUSE's (i.e. Novell's) lawyers regarding a set of colour palettes in Scribus that we include under a BSD-style licence. We didn't receive a similar request from Fedora or any other project. But they never complained about the OPL-licenced docs.

And there's another aspect we must not forget: The OPL as such, as well as the OPL-licenced docs pre-date many of today's popular distros (including Ubuntu and Fedora). So, slightly modifying Craig: "our rules have never changed". They have been there for almost a decade. What has changed (with the exception of Debian, which has always been rigid but at least reliably clear) is internal guidelines of some projects. 

> I am not sure though that the licence should be changed, I don't even 
> know if that is feasible or not. And definitely it is not up to me to 
> make this decision. But the problem is there, so something should be 
> done about it. E.g. providing less complete docs with a licence that is 
> "free enough" for the major distros, as a.l.e suggested. Ok, I know, I 
> am free to start working on this (but unfortunately, I don't have the 
> time to do that).

As mentioned above, there is no measurement for "free enough". The OPL as adopted by us) is in many aspects more free than the FDL.

> So gentlemen, please, less blood, more pragmatism. I like scribus, and 
> I'd like to see it more successful. 

We don't shed blood, but sometimes it helps to speak plainly, even if it hurts, shake hands (sometimes digitally), and then move on :)

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