Advocating FDL University-courses

Jaime E . Villate villate at
Tue Jul 16 09:42:34 UTC 2002

On Tue, Jul 16, 2002 at 06:49:06AM +0200, Wouter Vanden Hove wrote:
> Currently, I'm in debate with some professors trying to convince them to
> release their syllabus under the FDL. But appearantly they are then
> required to do a lot of extra work creating an online version (which
> doesn't exist now), a work worsened by the fact that they use Microsoft
> Word and don't know HTML? Am I seeing this wrong?

On Tue, Jul 16, 2002 at 10:07:19AM +0200, Tomasz Wegrzanowski wrote:
> Microsoft Word format is completely ok as transparent copy.
> You can use it with many Open Source word processors and other
> utilities.

But it has many other problems associated: it is not standard and it is
binary, rather than text, which makes it unpactical from the point of view
of version control systems.

As the editor of our university's press, I'm also trying to convince my
colleagues to release their books with free licenses. I recommend that they
release them in any editable format they have it (even the abominable Word
format) and once they are free documents we at the university press will
translate them into a more standard and convenient format (LaTeX is our current
option). I've seen also groups of students working in translating their
professor's notes into LaTeX.

The major problem I see preventing professors from releasing their books with
free documentation licenses is that the academic establishment do not value
non-traditional publications. If a famous editorial company publishes your
book, your colleagues give you a lot of credit for it. If you distribute it
yourself on the Internet they don't take it seriously. The problem is that
most major editors will not publish books with a free license; the authors
will have to put some pressure on them. For authors it has a lot of
advantages to publish under a free documentation license: they are again free
to update and use their own books, which with the current copyright transfer
contracts is something they cannot do (I know it from my own experience :-)


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