Non-free documentation in the Erlang distribution

Roger Price rprice@REDACTED
Mon Jun 5 11:12:20 CEST 2006

On Sun, 4 Jun 2006, Francois-Denis Gonthier wrote:

> It has been brought to our attention that a file currently distributed 
> with Erlang documentation has been deemed non-free, meaning that they 
> should be removed from the main repository of Debian, and most likely 
> other distributions like Ubuntu.
> One of the file for which the problem has been confirmed is rfc3015.txt 
> from the Megaco documentation.  See bug 365175 [1] on Debian.

When two standards development authorities, in this case the IETF and the 
ITU share text, each is entitled to publish as it sees fit.  The ITU have 
a "non-free" copyright statement: 

 Access to databases of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 
 for consultation of documents and/or information retrieval is permitted by 
 the ITU subject to the user's acceptance of ITU's provisions and conditions 
 of copyright contained within each document which obliges the user not to 
 duplicate the document or parts thereof for distribution or sale external 
 to the user's organization...

but the IETF have a "free" copyright policy, and RFC 3015 contains the statement:

Cuervo, et al.              Standards Track                   [Page 178]
RFC 3015              Megaco Protocol Version 1.0          November 2000

Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

It seems to me that if a packager takes file rfc3015.txt from the IETF, 
its "free", and may be redistributed.


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