Greg London greglondon at
Sun Aug 26 19:45:13 UTC 2001

David Johnson wrote:
> The OSI does not approve documentation licenses, 
> only software licenses.

uhm, OK. I get that.
I would however make two counter proposals to that:

1) software IS documentation.

Both are protected by copyright. Both are expressions.
Both are text files that are human readable.
(source code is at fairly readable, 
 binary files are simply in a very rudimentary language)
The only difference between the two is that 
software is a specific sub-section of all possible
literary works, with the distinction being that
software is also machine readable as well as 
human readable.

2) Software (open source or not) is of little value
	without documentation.

If OSI has a commitment to furthering open source
software, then a documentation license would greatly
advance open soure. What good is software if you don't
know how to use it?  Open software licenses created
an opening for programmers and engineers to step into,
creating an invitation to contribute to the open
source movement. A documentation license could
create an opening for teachers and trainers to step
into, inviting people to contribute to what has been
missing in a lot of open source software: 
an explanation for the rest of the world.
(as opposed to "the software is the documentation", and
therefore if you don't understand the software,
too bad for you)

I would like to write a "Teach Yourself Perl" kind of
document and license it so that it is freely copiable
and freely distributable. But I don't want people to 
modify my document and redistribute it (i.e. remove
any references that it was my document), or roll it
into a larger document and hide my name, or cut and
paste parts of it into a hardcopy book and sell it.

basically, you can copy and distribute the electronic
file in its original, pristine form. You can print out
a paper copy as part of your own fair use, and you can
cut and paste code samples into your code to run it,
and learn the code. you can put ammendments,
corrections, further explanations in a separate file,
and distribute that with my file as a "patch" (or
"footnote", to use a more document-centric term).
But you can't cut and paste pieces of it into 
something else and then redistribute that.

The reason for pristine-ness is that I was thinking
that I would put an advertisement on page 3 for a 
book that I am selling. If you read the document and
think its useful, maybe you'll go take a look at the
book I'm selling when you're done. If you can modify 
the file and redistribute it, the ad will disappear.
or, someone might intersperse a whole bunch of their
own ads in my document. 

hm, actually, this sounds like a way a web-page
might license their html files. (or is that 
"public display", I don't know) But I digress.

Then there's the whole warranty/as-is clause.
I don't want someone to read the document,
use a sample of code to control the space-shuttle,
and then come crying to me when it goes wrong.

And it doesn't seem like too complicated of a thing.
I read the OSI approved licenses, and they're
LOOOONNNNGGGG. I want something short and sweet,
so I can put it on page 2 of my document, and it
doesn't spill over into page 5. 

It sounds like it could be short. 
I'm only licensing the right to
copy and distribute pristine copies of the original
electronic file. Everything else is reserved.

But I'm not a lawyer, so I don't want to blow it
because I got delusions of grandure after watching an 
entire season of Matlock.

Sorry for the vent. just a bit frustrated.

> I would look at the QPL software license as 
> a starting point.

I'll take a look at it, thanks.
Greg London

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