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From:Warren Young Date:May 12 2005 3:06am
Subject:Re: Documentation license
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Chris Frey wrote:

> Not all the headers have copyright notices either, but that doesn't
> exempt them from the LGPL.

Yes.  As I said in my earlier message, we presume that these docs are 
released under the LGPL, becuase no other possibility would allow us to 
distribute this documentation at all.

> I've never heard of souce code comments being
> under a different license than the code they were a part of.

I'm not wedded to that argument.  The refman could remain under LGPL and 
it wouldn't break my heart.

> Debian has declared it a non-free license:

Quoting from Debian's draft position paper on the FDL: "...we cannot 
accept works licensed under the GNU FDL into our distribution."

That meets with my second criterion, so the FDL is out.

Debian themselves use the Open Publication License for their web site 
text.  I've just skimmed it, and it seems acceptable to me.

I see no objection from Debian about the Creative Commons licenses.

> In my view, technical documentation doesn't really need any special
> treatment when it comes to licensing, 

Consider this from the OPL:

"Any publication in standard (paper) book form shall require the 
citation of the original publisher and author. The publisher and 
author's names shall appear on all outer surfaces of the book. On all 
outer surfaces of the book the original publisher's name shall be as 
large as the title of the work and cited as possessive with respect to 
the title."

Or this, from the CC by-sa license:

"If You create a Collective Work, upon notice from any Licensor You 
must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Collective Work any 
reference to such Licensor or the Original Author, as requested."

Those sort of provisions are completely outside the scope of the LGPL, 
because it wasn't written with documentation in mind.

Also, there are provisions in the LGPL which simply make no sense when 
you try to apply it to documentation.  For instance:

"You may modify your copy...of the Library...provided that...the 
modified work [also]... be a software library."

Clearly a throwback to the first "L" in LGPL standing for "Library", and 
the limited thinking that comes from that frame of reference.  Taken 
literally (as lawyers will) this means we can't actually modify the 
documentation.

Or this:

"You may copy and distribute the Library...in object code or executable 
form..."

I don't think you can stretch the argot far enough to make a PDF the 
"executable form" of a DocBook document.  Since that provision doesn't 
apply, my web site is apparently violating the license, because I'm 
distributing the PDF form of the manual.  Obviously I'm in compliance 
with the spirit of the license, but that doesn't win many points with 
lawyers.
Thread
Documentation licenseChris Frey11 May
  • Re: Documentation licenseWarren Young11 May
    • Re: Documentation licenseWarren Young11 May
    • Re: Documentation licenseChris Frey12 May
      • Re: Documentation licenseWarren Young12 May
        • Re: Documentation licenseChris Frey12 May