[Fsfe-se] Questions concerning GFDL

Martin Olsson lists at minimum.se
Tue Aug 30 23:47:40 CEST 2005

Dear GNU License Gurus,

Lately I've been contributing a lot of images to the Wikimedia Commons 
repository and I usually publish them under the recommended GFDL 
license. Therefore I would like to laern more about exactly what the 
GFDL license allows and does not allow. After some googling I have 
arrived at three particular questions that I can not seem to answer myself.

QUESTION ONE: Suppose I download a GFDL-licensed image, from say the 
Wikimedia Commons repository, and then insert this image into a text 
document. Am I then forced to license the entire text document under the 
GFDL license too?

I tried to figure out the answer to this question myself by actually 
reading the GFDL text but with no luck so far (I have roughly zero legal 
experience). I have read, in particular, section 7 labelled "AGGREGATION 
WITH INDEPENDENT WORKS". The way I see it (and I hope I'm wrong) the 
text document (.doc or similar) can not be considered to be "a 
compilation of separate and independent documents" in which the GFDL 
image would be one of these "separate and independent documents". 
Therefore I assume that the text document must indeed be licensed under 

QUESTION TWO: This question deals with the converse of question one, ie 
inserting non GFDL-compatible images into a GFDL-licensed document. In 
particular the Wikipedia project (which is all GFDL as you probably 
know) frequently inserts non-GFDL-compatible images into their 
GFDL-licensed articles. Is this really allowed under the GFDL?

QUESTION THREE: Is it illegal to print articles from Wikipedia, or do I 
risk getting sued if I do?

The GFDL clearly says under section 2, "VERBATIM COPYING" that all 
copies on any medium must include, amongst other things, a full copy of 
the GFDL license text. Now, when I hit the PRINT-button in my browser 
there is just no way it's gonna print a full copy of the GFDL and attach 
it to the printed article. Therefore I've just breached the GFDL and I 
could hypothethically be sued by copyright holders (ie the author(s) of 
that particular article). Is this reasoning correct?

Martin Olsson

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