FDL requirements for original author

David Picón Álvarez eleuteri at myrealbox.com
Tue Feb 5 11:54:29 UTC 2008

> I'm promoting use of the FDL for textbooks and lecture notes at our
> university.  It critically depends on section 3.

Why are you promoting use of FDL when you don't want your own work to be 
free? Or, at least for that work you don't want to be free, FDL makes no 

>    The specific question is: *If I publish my own work
>    as a PDF under the FDL in the web, do I need to
>    provide the LaTeX sources?*

As the copyright holder you can do whatever you want, since noone likely has 
standing to sue you. However, so doing makes the licence worthless, since 
the rights which it attempts to grant are not effectively granted that way.

>   - IF it applies, how many units are published when I put the file
> online?  One?  As many as downloads?  [1]

My understanding is, as many as downloads.

>   - IF more than 100, publishing the pdf without the tex violates the
> FDL.  Yet, since only the copyright holder could pursue the offence,
> and that's me, for all /practical/ matters I'd be fine?

You'd be fine, but you wouldn't be granting the rights the FDL is designed 
to grant, so why bother licencing the work under the FDL in the first place? 
Issuing contradictory licences isn't useful, and it degrades the "brand 
value" of those licences, if you see what I mean. People who see an 
FDL-covered document have and should have the expectation that it is 
effectively free within the meaning of FDL, and applying FDL to documents 
which are not reduces the confidence people place on such promises.

>   Clearly, I can't recommend to use a license and infringe it:  What
> license would you recommend for those who like the FDL but are
> unwilling to reveal their LaTeX sources?

It depends on what is it you like about FDL. Perhaps a Creative Commons 
attribution, no-derives, would serve your purposes? No-derives since, hiding 
the source seems to be directed towards that aim, although I'm not sure why 
you don't want to expose your LaTeX, so can't say.

> [1] If one publishes as often as there are downloads, the license
> would encourage taking content offline as soon as 99 are reached -- 
> hardly the intention of a free license.  Also, since this timed taking
> offline is a prohibitive effort, the FDL would discourage putting the
> document online: It was made for ~20 students, so handing print-outs
> would be FDL compliant.  I don't believe the FDL wants to provide
> incentives to hide the text offline, either.

Well, the FDL primarily doesn't want to provide incentives to hide the 


More information about the Discussion mailing list