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Re: Compatibility between CC licenses and the GPL

There are two issues here: the DFSG-freeness of the CC SA-A license
and the GPL-compatibleness of that license.  I can't speak to its
freeness right now, since I don't have time to read the 2.0 version in
its entirety.  But it's clearly not GPL compatible.  To be clear, by
"not GPL compatible" I mean that it is not possible to derive a work
from works licensed under both the GPL and the CC-SA-A and distribute
the resulting work.

It is certainly legal to distribute a GPL'd program with documentation
which is under the CC SA-A license.  I just don't think it's a very
good idea from an engineering perspective.

I'm mentioned in bug thread 256332 as someone who encouraged sleepycat
to use compatible licenses for their documentation and code.  This is
because technical documentation often involves code snippets, and
because comments often contain text copied from manuals.  It is
convenient if the licenses permit such copying back and forth.

In the case of GNU Emacs, for example, there is a problem.  Code has
been copied from the program (GPL'd) to the manual (GFDL'd).  The
manual is a derived work of a GPL'd work, but is distributed only
under the GFDL.  The FSF may legally do this *only* because they own
the copyright on all of the code in Emacs and on all of the text in
the manual.  Nobody else has the freedom to modify the system of
code+manual in the ways that the FSF routinely uses.

Had they distributed the manuals under the GPL, or some GPL-compatible
license, then everybody would have the same freedom with respect to
Emacs and its manual that Richard Stallman has.


Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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