Invariant sections of Free Documentation (was: Free Music License?)

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at
Thu Aug 18 14:38:51 UTC 2005

On Wed, Aug 17, 2005 at 03:56:53PM +0200, Alfred M. Szmidt wrote
as answer to Jeroen Dekkers:

>    If they are not part of the main document, I should be able to
>    simply remove them. But that's not the case, the invariant sections
>    are a very strong part of the document. 

> There is also a perfectly valid reason in having invariant sections in
> a document, I might have written a document about how you twiddle
> frobs in a black box, and wish to give a note to everyone that my
> (non-existent) wife baked me cookies when I wrote the book and how
> much it helped me, and include a recipe for these cookies.  I also
> don't want to have someone modify the recipe to produce something
> horrible so that everyone will think that my wife can't cook.
> I also might want to make this note to my wife non-removable, since
> the book would not have been possible without her support.

One detail is often forgotten, but might is interesting in the debate:
The GNU FDL only allows sections to be invariant only for "secondary sections".

So let the book's main topic be about "twiddle frobs in a black box"
and let it be an unrelated section about Alfred's wife and her cookies.
It needs to be unrelated, otherwise it would not be a secondary section.
Also it probably needs to be short compared to the rest of the book
otherwise the main topic would be the wife and the cookies.

Now maximising freedom would mean: Many users get a good book about 
the frobs in the black box. They might not care about the secondary section, 
but it also does not hurt. The question is more: Are the frobs described well?

If I want to update the book and reprint, I can change all I like about the
frobs, the box and the twiddling. I will only do that if the first book
suited me and I found the quality to be okay. Otherwise I would just
write a new book with the knowledge I have learned from the old one.

I guess we should spend more time on rating the quality and
selection of a free documentation under GNU FDL.

There is another small legal advantage of the GNU FDL:
The opportunity to have invariant section helps a lot when you are
in court explaning how the main part of your document was meant.
Otherwise an author could not grant unlimited use for all purposes,
he or she would just claim: This was not the indented use according
to my personal rights!
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>

More information about the Discussion mailing list