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Re: [SDL] Proposed wiki license

d-legal: CC'd for comments, since this is a topic that came up many
times during the GFDL discussions, and my initial recommendation of
using the same license for the wiki as the software originated there.
DFSG-freeness may be an issue at some point as well, since, as Stephane
observed, it's very likely that text from the wiki could be used as the
basis for a set of manpages or other documentation, and that could be

The context should be clear from the quoted text: the license for the
SDL documentation wiki.

Note that the SDL list is, unfortunately, set to subscription-post-
only, which breaks crossposted discussions.  If any useful discussion
forms on the d-legal list and doesn't make it to the SDL list, I'll
post an archive link.  (Sorry, folks, nothing I can do about it ...)

On Wed, Aug 18, 2004 at 12:26:08PM -0500, Bob Pendleton wrote:
> I am proposing that we use the following as the license for the wiki.
> Please comment. Even comments on spelling and grammar will be
> appreciated. 
> IANAL and this has not been read or approved by a lawyer. But, I hope it
> expresses a view of how the documentation should be treated that we can
> all agree on.
> SDL Wiki License
> By posting on the SDL Documentation Wiki you are granting everyone
> everywhere and for all time a license to do the following with your
> posted material:
> 1.The freedom to read the text, for any purpose.
> 2.The freedom to make copies, for any purpose, so long as the copies are
> granted the same freedoms as the original version. 
> 3.The freedom to study how the text is written, and adapt it to their
> needs. 
> 4.The Freedom to reformat the posted material into a preferred format or
> medium (converting to braille, or speech, or hard copy, or postscript,
> etc) for use with any type of device or technology. 
> 5.The freedom to redistribute copies, including modified versions, so
> long as the copies are granted the same freedoms as the version.
> 6.The freedom to improve the text, and release your improvements  to the
> public, so that the whole community benefits, so long as the modified
> versions are granted the same freedoms as the original version.
> 7.Freedom to translate the text into any other language, so long as the
> translated versions are granted the same freedoms as the original.  
> 8.The freedom to keep your modifications of a personal copy, or even
> your possession of a copy of the text, confidential. 

#4, #6, and #7 are all part of #5: they're just types of modifications,
so there's no need to mention them specifically.  #3 and #8 are rights
that people have, anyway.  I'd remove all of those; extra terms in a
license only complicate things.

I'd strongly recommend not writing your own license, and using an existing
and established one instead.  http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2000/01/msg00088.html
summarizes some reasons for this better than I can.

Since this is somewhat imprecise, it's hard for me to critique it as a
license.  It seems like it's trying to be a copyleft, requiring no additional
restrictions be placed; that would probably make it incompatible with the
LGPL-licensed SDL itself, which means that you couldn't take a piece of text
from the wiki and use it in a comment, or vice versa.  Do you think that's
important?  (It seems so to me, but my opinion isn't very important here and
maybe you guys disagree.)

It would be useful to enumerate the *restrictions* you wish placed upon the
wiki; from that, somebody may be able to propose a license that does what
you want.

Hmm.  Normally, it's useful to use the same license for documentation as
the software itself; but that's somewhat difficult with the LGPL, since it
assumes the work it's applied to is a library.  I'm not sure, though.

CC to d-legal for comments.  Is it a reasonable recommendation to put a wiki
under the LGPL?  If not, is there any approach that would permit text to
cross between the docs and the source, with the source being unalterably
LGPL?  (The LGPL is a somewhat strange license, and I don't understand its
nuances as well as the GPL's.)

Glenn Maynard

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