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Requesting help with non-GPL MySQL license


The mysql docs have, in the recent versions, an explicit note that the docs
itself are not GPL, although the real software is. Reason for this was that
MySQL.COM likes to be the only one who may sell printed versions for mysql.

My first guess would be that the docs thus have to move to a seperate 
package to non-free, which would be annoying work :(. 

Maybe someone of you sees another way or followed the whole DFSG vs. GNU FDL
thread and knows how compatible both are because MySQL would like to put
their manual under the FDL (maybe we could give them some advice).



P.S.: The relevant part of the license is:

  6. The manual is not distributed under a GPL style license. Use of the 
     manual is subject to the following terms: 
     * Conversion to other formats is allowed, but the actual content may not 
       be altered or edited in any way. 
     * You may create a printed copy for your own personal use. 
     * For all other uses, such as selling printed copies or using (parts of)
       the manual in another publication, prior written agreement from 
       MySQL AB is required. 
--- Begin Message ---
Hi Christian,

I'm giving you some additional background info in this message, which
will hopefully help resolve the issue faster.

On Wed, 2002-02-20 at 09:37, Christian Hammers wrote:
> I have just been pointed out to a license modification for the MySQL 
> documentation. According to http://www.mysql.com/doc/C/o/Copyright.html,
> point six, modifications of the manual are no longer (starting with 4.x?)
> allowed. This violates the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) as on
> http://www.debian.org/social_contract.
> Now I'm wondering why you did this as the whole server was GPL'ed long ago?

Ehm, the copyright/license of the manual hasn't been changed. If you
look at older versions of the manual.texi source, you'll see the same
copyright and no GPL-style license.
But, until recently it wasn't really noted/clarified in the main manual
text. We thought that the text we put in would be sufficient for people,
giving them the freedom to copy the docs and print it for their own use.
We didn't know that would clash with the DFSG....

> This means that I would have to put the documentation files into a seperate 
> package which would not be part of the official Debian distribution but 
> stored seperately on the FTP servers and would probably not be included on 
> the official CDs :-(

Auch. Let's fix this ASAP, shall we!

> Did you get too much trouble by others distributing a badly modified version?

Think about what happened with NuSphere.... (just an example)

The manual is a source of income for us, just like selling support,
training, consulting, etc. With the doc license the way it was, users
can do their normal stuff (as described above), and we can for instance
bring out a printed edition of the manual, without the risk of someone
else doing the same and competing with us for selling our own manual!

See, manuals are not like software, things don't quite work the same
way. As you may know, the FSF now has a specific GPL license for
documents (the GNU Free Documentation License, GFDL), and we are in fact
currently working on putting our manual under that license.

Now, I wonder whether the GFDL and the DFSG are compatible in all
circumstances? (or at all) Perhaps you can tell us... and if they
aren't, you may wanna have a chat with RMS about this intruiging issue
(See http://www.fsf.org/licenses/fdl.html)
In particular, I wonder about the "invariant sections"; while they make
sense in the context of the FDL (aimed at docs), am I correct in
understanding that the DFSG is phrased more absolute, and in fact
requires modification of any part, no matter what? If there is a clash,
maybe one solution would be to amend the DFSG to take docs (and the
GFDL) into account....

> The DFSG allows the compromise which I would propose you in case you will
> still decide against removing this restriction:
> -------------------------------------------
> Integrity of The Author's Source Code 
> The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified
> form _only_ if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with
> the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The
> license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified
> source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different
> name or version number from the original software. (This is a compromise.
> The Debian group encourages all authors not to restrict any files, source
> or binary, from being modified.)
> -------------------------------------------

This kind of clause is not really suitable for something like a manual,
is it?

> I'm looking forward to a response and am really hoping that the
> documentation gets free again.

Certainly, let's try and sort this out!

>From our angle, we need to make sure that our license is compatible with
both the GFDL as well as the DFSG, which would be rather hard if those
two are in fact incompatible ;-)

I'll also ask another very philosophical question:
In the DFSG, I see only "software" mentioned, not documentation/manual
or whatever. So, is documentation covered at all?
The GPL is considered ok by the DFSG, but the FSF recognises that
documentation is different from software and has designed the GFDL for
that purpose.

I'd like to hear your thoughts and comments on all the above, and we can
go on from there!

> thanks,
>  -christian- / Debian maintainer of the MySQL packages

Hope to hear from you soon!


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