Documentation vs. Software (Re: Savannah rejects a project because it uses GPL)

Frank Heckenbach frank at
Thu Feb 23 21:03:22 UTC 2006

Gareth Bowker wrote:

> Let's try an example back in the context of software.
> Let's say I write a shoot-em-up game, where you're shooting aliens
> (similar to, say, Doom). I release that under GPL.
> Now, someone else comes along and changes the game (which they're
> perfectly entitled to do under GPL, obviously). Instead of shooting at
> aliens, you're now shooting Shia Muslims, as an example.
> Under UK law, that would be incitement to religious hatred, and illegal.
> Using your logic, because I allowed anyone to modify my work, I can be
> sued. This is clearly ridiculous.

Under his logic, that someone else would even be allowed to claim
that you wrote the program shooting Shia Muslims.

> In the context of books/documentation released under GFDL, simply
> because I allow you to modify a work I publish under GFDL, it doesn't
> mean that future changes to the book are my responsibility. If someone
> changes what I originally wrote to now be libellous, that doesn't mean
> that I can be sued for it. Such a situation is absurd, yet that's how I
> interpret what you've stated. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's
> what:
> > There is no law in the world that will protect you from slander
> > if you explicitly allow for the right to modify a work.
> seems to say to me.

Exactly, that's absurd. And if it were true, the FDL would protect
against it only WRT the invariant sections. I.e., someone else could
still include libel in the non-invariant sections and pretend it was


Frank Heckenbach, frank at
GnuPG and PGP keys: (7977168E)

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