(Hrm, asking for someone to handle this results in a motion for it to be handled, and lots of seconds that aren't willing to actually do anything. How helpful.) Debian's stance on the GNU Free Documentation License ...OR NOT (completely unofficial, draft, blahblah) 20th April, 2003 In November 2002, the version 1.2 of the GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL) was released by the Free Software Foundation after a long period of consultation. Unfortunately, some concerns raised by members of the Debian Project were not addressed, and as such the GNU FDL can apply to works that do not pass the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG), and may thus only be included in the non-free component of the Debian archive, not the Debian distribution itself. This document attempts to explain the reasoning behind this conclusion, and offers some suggestions on how authors of free documentation may avoid these problems. The Problem ~~~~~~~~~~~ The GNU FDL includes a number of conditions that apply to all modified versions that disallow modifications, particularly: * K. For any section Entitled "Acknowledgements" or "Dedications", Preserve the Title of the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein. * L. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles. However, modifiability is a fundamental requirement of the Debian Free Software Guidelines, which state: 3. Derived Works The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software. As such, we cannot accept works that include "Invariant Sections" and similar unmodifiable components into our distribution, which unfortunately includes a number of current manuals for GNU software. The Solution ~~~~~~~~~~~~ There are a number of things that can be done to avoid this problem. 1) Avoid using the various options the GNU FDL allows. If you do not make use of Invariant Sections, or include an Acknowledgements or Dedication section, there are no problems with your GNU FDL licensed document passing the DFSG. However, if someone modifies your document, and adds an Invariant Section, the new document will become "tainted" and can no longer be made to pass the DFSG. 2) Use an alternative copyleft license for your document. Alternative licenses that you should consider for your documentation include the GNU General Public License, or the Creative Commons ShareAlike or Attribution-ShareAlike licenses. 3) Use a non-copyleft free license for your document. Example licenses include the FreeBSD Documentation License, the Creative Commons ShareAlike license, and common software licenses such as the X11 license, or the updated BSD license. 4) Update the GNU FDL to allow the removal of unmodifiable sections. While this does not prevent documents covered by the GNU FDL being non-free, it allows you to extract the non-free components from the document, leaving just the juicy DFSG-free goodness. More Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl-1.2-comments.txt http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/debian-legal-200211/msg00285.html http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/debian-legal-200211/msg00287.html http://www.wikipedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2002-June/002238.html http://www.wikipedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2001-October/000624.html http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ Open Questions ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We want to do a FAQ as well. Should the "documentation = software" thing be justified there? How about the practical examples we have? What other practical examples are there? Which packages are affected? What are we going to do about all the documentation with clearly non-free licenses, or that lack clear licenses? This seems to include things like the Debian Manifesto, that's part of doc-debian. Do we really want to recommend Creative Commons Licenses? They've very long and legalistic -- even the "do what you want, but keep my name" license is disgustingly complicated, to the point where it's not obviously DFSG-free. Are those all that makes the GFDL conflict with the DFSG? What else needs to be covered? Cheers, aj -- Anthony Towns <firstname.lastname@example.org> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/> I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred. ``Dear Anthony Towns: [...] Congratulations -- you are now certified as a Red Hat Certified Engineer!''
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