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Re: If not GFDL, then what?

Mark Pilgrim <f8dy@diveintomark.org> writes:

> Doug Winter wrote:
>> On Sat 11 Oct Mark Pilgrim wrote:
>>>Here is what I would like to do:
>>>1. Give away my book for free.
>>>2. Force translations and all derivative works to remain free.
>>>3. Force my editor's contributions to remain free.
>>>4. Allow Apress to publish the book commercially.
>>>5. Put the book in Debian main.
>>>What license would you recommend for that?
>> One license you may wish to consider is the Creative Commons
>> Attribution
>> License:
>> http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0/legalcode
>> It appears to fulfil all of your requirements, afaict, except perhaps
>> being suitable for main.
> With all due respect, I already have a license that fulfills
> requirements 1-4 but not 5: the GFDL.

The GFDL fulfills 1 only if the book is written in something the FSF
recognizes as an open format.  It does not permit free translation if
there are invariants, so it does not meet #2.

The GFDL is not a copyleft, so it certainly does not meet #2 and #3.
Don't believe me?  Examine the following:

Alice distributes a program, under the GPL, and a documentation
package for that program under the GFDL.  Because she is the copyright
holder, she distributes them together.  Nobody else can redistribute
this as a single integral package, of course.

Now Bob takes this package and modifies the program to include a new
feature and some bug fixes, as well as some material X.  He also modifies the documentation to
include information on the new feature and an invariant section
calculated to offend Alice, or shame her to distribute, such as a
cover text stating "Written by Bob.  Alice claims authorship, but lies.".  He
distributes the improved program under the GPL and the improved
documentation under the GFDL.

Alice is guaranteed to be able to use the bug fixes and new feature
added by Bob: she can simply disregard material X, no matter what it
is.  She cannot use the material in Bob's documentation, though,
without importing repugnant or false statements.  Bob has succeeded in
taking the documentation proprietary.


Brian T. Sniffen                                        bts@alum.mit.edu

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