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Re: Suggestion to maintainers of GFDL docs

Stephane Bortzmeyer <bortzmeyer@nic.fr> writes:

> On Wed, Apr 16, 2003 at 09:40:49AM -0400,
>  Peter S Galbraith <psg@debian.org> wrote 
>  a message of 25 lines which said:
>> * Why you shouldn't use the GFDL:: Debian doesn't recommend using this license.
> Can you actually write this section and post it here? Because I have a
> practical problem: finding a free licence for an important
> documentation I'm currently writing (and one which is not included in
> a specific software) and, after getting a headache from reading
> hundreds of previous postings in debian-legal, I still have
> difficulties to find a proper licence.
> Practical advices are welcome. I believe it is easier to bash the GFDL
> than to write a proper alternative.

The MIT/X11 license and the GPL would both work, depending on whether
you want a copyleft.  The MIT license can probably be used just by
itself.  To use the GPL, though, you should probably put in a section
which explains how your document can be viewed as software, along the
lines of:

    This section is for clarification only.  It is intended to expand
    on the wishes of the author, but should not be interpreted to
    change the license or copyright status of the work.  The author
    intends that the LaTeX2e source for this document be treated as
    the "preferred form for modification", which is to say the "Source
    Code".  All other formats -- even open, transparent formats such
    as plain text or HTML -- are hard for the author to use in
    integrating changes to his copy of the document, and so should be
    considered "Object Code".  Again, this isn't a binding statement,
    and any distribution in a preferred form for modification, such as
    plain text or clean HTML, is acceptable as "Source Code" under the
    license.  Distribution in a closed, hard to modify format such as
    PDF, generated HTML or PostScript, or a Microsoft Word document
    should always be treated as "Object Code".

I hope that's useful to you.


Brian T. Sniffen                                        bts@alum.mit.edu

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