GFDL (was: EU Copyright..)

Alex Hudson home at
Mon May 6 18:27:04 UTC 2002

On Mon, 2002-05-06 at 18:22, MJ Ray wrote:
> I think "while wider" is the key phrase.  For GPL'd software, you have the
> bare legal minimum invariance to achieve the intended effect, but the GFDL
> goes far beyond that. 

You're begging the question now ;) Yes, the GFDL does go further. You've
not established that it goes beyond the minimum necessary to function as
intended... if you assume that it does go beyond the minimum, then of
course you can argue it's a non-free licence. I think it's clear that a
number of key functions are intended, though, and that the GFDL is the
minimum required to meet them. 

> The GFDL extends the invariance to include any advertisements (be they
> political, commercial or other) supplied with the documentation and each new
> author or publisher may add their own.

Which section are you referring to here? I have read the GFDL over twice
now, and I can't even see the word 'advertisement', and neither can my
find. Are you talking about the 'Endorsements' section?

> The GFDL also drops the requirement to make the source material available in
> some cases, doesn't it?

Again, where? The only case I can think of is when you are distributing
less than 100 opaque verbatim non-printed copies - is this what you find
problematic? The verbatim copy still refers to the original source, and
no modifications have been made. The verbatim copy is also under the
GFDL, so you can still make verbatim copies of that copy.

The GFDL is aimed at reference and technical works, and there are
well-established rules about authorship, citation, endorsement, etc. I
think this is why it is more complex than the GPL in this regard.
However, I don't buy that it's non-free - the technical information, the
whole value of the document, is freely modifyable and distributable.
That's all that matters to me, really, the rest is etiquette.


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