HOME

TheInfoList




The GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL or simply GFDL) is a
copyleft Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify with the requirement that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created from that property. Copyleft in the form of s can be used to maintain conditions ...

copyleft
license A license (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

license
for free documentation, designed by the
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States ...
(FSF) for the
GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versi ...
. It is similar to the
GNU General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and software distribu ...
, giving readers the rights to copy, redistribute, and modify (except for "invariant sections") a work and requires all copies and derivatives to be available under the same license. Copies may also be sold commercially, but, if produced in larger quantities (greater than 100), the original document or source code must be made available to the work's recipient. The GFDL was designed for manuals, textbooks, other reference and instructional materials, and documentation which often accompanies GNU software. However, it can be used for any text-based work, regardless of subject matter. For example, the free online encyclopedia
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) ...

Wikipedia
uses the GFDL (coupled with the
Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copie ...
) for much of its text, excluding text that was imported from other sources after the 2009 licensing update that is only available under the Creative Commons license.


History

The GFDL was released in draft form for feedback in September 1999. After revisions, version 1.1 was issued in March 2000, version 1.2 in November 2002, and version 1.3 in November 2008. The current state of the license is version 1.3. The first discussion draft of the GNU Free Documentation License version 2 was released on September 26, 2006, along with a draft of the new
GNU Simpler Free Documentation LicenseThe GNU Simpler Free Documentation License (GSFDL) is a proposed version of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) that has no requirements to maintain Cover Texts and Invariant Sections. It is meant to provide a simpler licensing option for autho ...
. On December 1, 2007, Wikipedia founder
Jimmy Wales Jimmy Donal Wales (born August 7, 1966), also known by the pseudonym Jimbo, is an American-British Internet entrepreneur An Internet entrepreneur is an owner, founder or manager of an Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Inter ...

Jimmy Wales
announced that a long period of discussion and negotiation between and amongst the Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons, the
Wikimedia Foundation Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an American foundation headquartered in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, ...
and others had produced a proposal supported by both the FSF and Creative Commons to modify the Free Documentation License in such a fashion as to allow the possibility for the Wikimedia Foundation to migrate the projects to the similar Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC BY-SA) license. These changes were implemented on version 1.3 of the license, which includes a new provision allowing certain materials released under the license to be used under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license also.


Conditions

Material licensed under the current version of the license can be used for any purpose, as long as the use meets certain conditions. * All previous authors of the work must be attributed. * All changes to the work must be logged. * All
derivative work In copyright law Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical ...
s must be licensed under the same license. * The full text of the license, unmodified invariant sections as defined by the author if any, and any other added warranty disclaimers (such as a general disclaimer alerting readers that the document may not be accurate for example) and copyright notices from previous versions must be maintained. * Technical measures such as
DRM DRM may refer to: Government, military and politics * Defense reform movement, U.S. campaign inspired by Col. John Boyd * Democratic Republic of Madagascar, a former socialist state (1975–1992) on Madagascar * Direction du renseignement militaire ...
may not be used to control or obstruct distribution or editing of the document.


Secondary sections

The license explicitly separates any kind of "Document" from "Secondary Sections", which may not be integrated with the Document, but exist as front-matter materials or appendices. Secondary sections can contain information regarding the author's or publisher's relationship to the subject matter, but not any subject matter itself. While the Document itself is wholly editable and is essentially covered by a license equivalent to (but mutually incompatible with) the
GNU General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and software distribu ...
, some of the secondary sections have various restrictions designed primarily to deal with proper attribution to previous authors. Specifically, the authors of prior versions have to be acknowledged and certain "invariant sections" specified by the original author and dealing with his or her relationship to the subject matter may not be changed. If the material is modified, its title has to be changed (unless the prior authors permit to retain the title). The license also has provisions for the handling of front-cover and back-cover texts of books, as well as for "History", "Acknowledgements", "Dedications" and "Endorsements" sections. These features were added in part to make the license more financially attractive to commercial publishers of software documentation, some of whom were consulted during the drafting of the GFDL.Richard Stallman
Why publishers should use the GNU FDL
Accessed on 2009-07-17
GNU project

/ref> "Endorsements" sections are intended to be used in official standard documents, where the distribution of modified versions should only be permitted if they are not labeled as that standard anymore.


Commercial redistribution

The GFDL requires the ability to "copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially" and therefore is incompatible with material that excludes commercial re-use. As mentioned above, the GFDL was designed with commercial publishers in mind, as Stallman explained: Material that restricts commercial re-use is incompatible with the license and cannot be incorporated into the work. However, incorporating such restricted material may be
fair use Fair use is a doctrine in the law of the United States that permits limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder. Fair use is one of the limitations to copyright intended to balance the ...
under United States copyright law (or
fair dealing Fair dealing is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic l ...
in some other countries) and does not need to be licensed to fall within the GFDL if such fair use is covered by all potential subsequent uses. One example of such liberal and commercial fair use is
parody A parody, also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), or a caricature, is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or make fun of its subject by means of satire, satiric or irony, ironic imitation. Ofte ...
.


Compatibility with Creative Commons licensing terms

Although the two licenses work on similar copyleft principles, the GFDL is not compatible with the
Creative Commons Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collect ...

Creative Commons
license. However, at the request of the
Wikimedia Foundation Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an American foundation headquartered in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, ...
, version 1.3 added a time-limited section allowing specific types of websites using the GFDL to additionally offer their work under the CC BY-SA license. These exemptions allow a GFDL-based collaborative project with multiple authors to transition to the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, without first obtaining the permission of every author, if the work satisfies several conditions: * The work must have been produced on a "Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Site" (MMC), such as a public
wiki A wiki ( ) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hypertext documents are interconnected by hyperlinks, which are typically activated b ...

wiki
for example. * If external content originally published on a MMC is present on the site, the work must have been licensed under Version 1.3 of the GNU FDL, or an earlier version but with the "or any later version" declaration, with no cover texts or invariant sections. If it was not originally published on an MMC, it can only be relicensed if it were added to an MMC before November 1, 2008. To prevent the clause from being used as a general compatibility measure, the license itself only allowed the change to occur before August 1, 2009. At the release of version 1.3, the FSF stated that all content added before November 1, 2008 to Wikipedia as an example satisfied the conditions. The Wikimedia Foundation itself after a public referendum, invoked this process to
dual-license Multi-licensing is the practice of distributing software under two or more different sets of terms and conditions. This may mean multiple different software licenses or sets of licenses. Prefixes may be used to indicate the number of licenses u ...
content released under the GFDL under the
CC BY-SA A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copie ...

CC BY-SA
license in June 2009, and adopted a foundation-wide attribution policy for the use of content from Wikimedia Foundation projects.


Enforcement

There have currently been no cases involving the GFDL in a court of law, although its sister license for software, the
GNU General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and software distribu ...
, has been successfully enforced in such a setting. Although the content of
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) ...

Wikipedia
has been plagiarized and used in violation of the GFDL by other sites, such as
Baidu Baike Baidu Baike (; ) is a Chinese-language collaborative online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is ...
, no contributors have ever tried to bring an organization to court due to violation of the GFDL. In the case of Baidu, Wikipedia representatives asked the site and its contributors to respect the terms of the licenses and to make proper attributions.


Criticism

Some critics consider the GFDL a non-free license. Some reasons for this are that the GFDL allows "invariant" text which cannot be modified or removed, and that its prohibition against
digital rights management Digital rights management (DRM) tools or technological protection measures (TPM) are a set of access control In the fields of physical security and information security, access control (AC) is the selective restriction of access to a place ...
(DRM) systems applies to valid usages, like for "private copies made and not distributed". Notably, the
Debian Debian (), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a GNU/Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. The first version of ...

Debian
project,
Thomas Bushnell Thomas Bushnell, Brotherhood of Saint Gregory, BSG, formerly known as Michael Bushnell (born December 13, 1967), is a software developer and Brotherhood of Saint Gregory, Gregorian friar. He was the founder and principal architect of GNU's officia ...
, Nathanael Nerode, and
Bruce Perens Bruce Perens (born around 1958) is an American computer programmer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal contexts), is a person who creates computer s ...
have raised objections. Bruce Perens saw the GFDL even outside the "Free Software ethos": In 2006, Debian developers voted to consider works licensed under the GFDL to comply with their
Debian Free Software GuidelinesThe Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) is a set of guidelines that the Debian Debian (), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a Linux distribution A Linux distribution (often abbreviated as distro) is an operating system An operating syst ...
provided the invariant section clauses are not used.Debian Project
Resolution: Why the GNU Free Documentation License is not suitable for Debian
Voted February–March 2006. (Accessed June 20, 2009)
The results was GFDL without invariant sections is DFSG compliant. However, their resolution stated that even without invariant sections, GFDL-licensed software documentation "is still not free of trouble", namely because of its incompatibility with the major free software licenses. Those opposed to the GFDL have recommended the use of alternative licenses such as the
BSD License BSD licenses are a family of permissive free software licenses, imposing minimal restrictions on the use and distribution of covered software. This is in contrast to copyleft Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distrib ...
or the GNU GPL. The
FLOSS Manuals The FLOSS Manuals (FM) is a non-profit foundation founded in 2006 by Adam Hyde and based in the Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referred to as Holland, is a country primarily located in Western Europe and partly in th ...
foundation, an organization devoted to creating manuals for free software, decided to eschew the GFDL in favor of the GPL for its texts in 2007, citing the incompatibility between the two, difficulties in implementing the GFDL, and the fact that the GFDL "does not allow for easy duplication and modification", especially for digital documentation.


DRM clause

The GNU FDL contains the statement: A criticism of this language is that it is too broad, because it applies to private copies made but not distributed. This means that a licensee is not allowed to save document copies "made" in a proprietary file format or using encryption. In 2003,
Richard Stallman Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), also known by his initials, rms, is an American free software movement The free software movement is a social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of peo ...

Richard Stallman
said about the above sentence on the debian-legal mailing list:


Invariant sections

A GNU FDL work can quickly be encumbered because a new, different title must be given and a list of previous titles must be kept. This could lead to the situation where there are a whole series of title pages, and dedications, in each and every copy of the book if it has a long lineage. These pages cannot be removed until the work enters the
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, wr ...

public domain
after
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
expires.
Richard Stallman Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), also known by his initials, rms, is an American free software movement The free software movement is a social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of peo ...

Richard Stallman
said about invariant sections on the ''debian-legal'' mailing list:


GPL incompatible in both directions

The GNU FDL is
incompatible Compatibility may refer to: Computing * Backward compatibility, in which newer devices can understand data generated by older devices * Compatibility card, an expansion card for hardware emulation of another device * Compatibility layer, compone ...
in both directions with the GPL—material under the GNU FDL cannot be put into GPL code and GPL code cannot be put into a GNU FDL manual. At the June 22nd and 23rd 2006 international GPLv3 conference in Barcelona,
Eben Moglen Eben Moglen (born 1959) is an American legal scholar who is professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary ed ...
hinted that a future version of the GPL could be made suitable for documentation:


Burdens when printing

The GNU FDL requires that licensees, when printing a document covered by the license, must also include "this License, the copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the Document". This means that if a licensee prints out a copy of an article whose text is covered under the GNU FDL, they must also include a copyright notice and a physical printout of the GNU FDL, which is a significantly large document in itself. Worse, the same is required for the standalone use of just one (for example, Wikipedia) image.
Wikivoyage Wikivoyage is a free web-based travel guide for travel destinations and travel topics written by volunteer authors. It is a sister project of Wikipedia and supported and hosted by the same non-profit Wikimedia Foundation The Wikimedia Foun ...

Wikivoyage
, a web site dedicated to
free content Free content, libre content, or free information is any kind of functional work, work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetics, aesthetic value. Except for " ...
travel guides, chose not to use the GFDL because it considers it unsuitable for short printed texts.


Other free content licenses

Some of these were developed independently of the GNU FDL, while others were developed in response to perceived flaws in the GNU FDL. *
GNU Simpler Free Documentation LicenseThe GNU Simpler Free Documentation License (GSFDL) is a proposed version of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) that has no requirements to maintain Cover Texts and Invariant Sections. It is meant to provide a simpler licensing option for autho ...
*
Creative Commons licenses A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copie ...

Creative Commons licenses
* Design Science License *
Free Art license The Free Art License (FAL), (french: Licence Art Libre (LAL)) is a copyleft Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that incl ...
*
FreeBSD Documentation License The FreeBSD Documentation License is the license that covers most of the documentation for the FreeBSD operating system. License The license is very similar to the 2-clause Simplified BSD License used by the rest of FreeBSD, however, it makes the m ...
*
Open Content License The Open Content License is a share-alike The copyleft.html"_;"title="Creative_Commons_icon_for_Share-Alike,_a_variant_of_the_copyleft">Creative_Commons_icon_for_Share-Alike,_a_variant_of_the_copyleft_symbol Share-alike_is_a_Copyright.html" ;"ti ...
*
Open Game License The Open Game License (OGL) is a public copyright license by Wizards of the Coast Wizards of the Coast LLC (often referred to as WotC or simply Wizards) is an American publisher of games, primarily based on fantasy and List of science ...
* Open Publication License *
WTFPL WTFPL is a permissive{{about, , the 1970 British film, Permissive (film), the grammatical mode, Permissive mood, the flavor of software license, permissive free software licence A permissive cell or host is one that allows a virus A viru ...


List of projects that use the GFDL

* Most projects of the
Wikimedia Foundation Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an American foundation headquartered in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, ...
, including
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) ...

Wikipedia
(excluding
Wikivoyage Wikivoyage is a free web-based travel guide for travel destinations and travel topics written by volunteer authors. It is a sister project of Wikipedia and supported and hosted by the same non-profit Wikimedia Foundation The Wikimedia Foun ...

Wikivoyage
and
Wikinews Wikinews is a free-content news wiki and a Wikimedia project, project of the Wikimedia Foundation. The site works through collaborative journalism. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has distinguished Wikinews from Wikipedia by saying "on Wikinews ...

Wikinews
) - On June 15, 2009, the Section 11 clauses were used to dual-license the content of these wikis under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license and GFDL. *
An Anarchist FAQ "An Anarchist FAQ" is a FAQ written by an international work group of social anarchists connected through the internet. It documents anarchist theory and ideas and argues in favor of social anarchism. It also explores other debates internal to the ...
*
Citizendium Citizendium ( ; "the citizens' compendium of everything") is an English language, English-language wiki-based free content, free online encyclopedia launched by Larry Sanger, co-founder of Nupedia and Wikipedia. It was first announced in Septem ...

Citizendium
- the project uses GFDL for articles originally from Wikipedia. *
Free On-line Dictionary of Computing The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (FOLDOC) is an online, searchable, encyclopedic dictionary Title page from the 1894 four volume version of Robert Hunter's ''The Encyclopædic Dictionary''. An encyclopedic dictionary typically includes ...
* Last.fm - artists descriptions are under GFDL *
Marxists Internet Archive Marxists Internet Archive (also known as MIA or Marxists.org) is a non-profit online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia ...

Marxists Internet Archive
*
PlanetMath PlanetMath is a free Free may refer to: Concept * Freedom, having the ability to act or change without constraint * Emancipate, to procure political rights, as for a disenfranchised group * Free will, control exercised by rational agents over t ...
(now uses CC-BY-SA license) *
Rosetta Code Rosetta Code is a wiki-based programming website with implementations of common algorithms and solutions to various programming problems in many different programming languages. It is named for the Rosetta Stone The Rosetta Stone is a gran ...
*
SourceWatch The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is a progressive nonprofit watchdog and advocacy organization based in Madison, Wisconsin.http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/walker-backtracks-from-striking-truth-from-uw-system-charter/article_4c82a6 ...
* The specification documents that define TRAK, an
enterprise architecture framework An enterprise architecture framework (EA framework) defines how to create and use an enterprise architecture Enterprise architecture (EA) is the most reputed discipline that: i) defines, organises, standardizes, and documents the whole arch ...
, are released under the GFDL. * ''Abstract Algebra'' by Thomas W. Judson. * the
Baseball-Reference Baseball-Reference is a website providing baseball statistics Baseball statistics play an important role in evaluating the progress of a player or team. Since the flow of a baseball game has natural breaks to it, and normally players act individual ...
's BR Bullpen, a free user-contributed baseball wiki


See also

*
BSD license The Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is a discontinued operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include oper ...
*
Copyleft Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things ...

Copyleft
*
Copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

Copyright
*
Free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and software distribution, redistribute that software. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright law, but the rights-holde ...
*
GNU GNU () is an extensive collection of free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any ...

GNU
*
Non-commercial educational A non-commercial educational station (NCE station) is a radio station Radio broadcasting is transmission of audio Audio most commonly refers to sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (e ...
*
Open content Free content, libre content, or free information is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative Content (media and publishing), content that meets the definition of a Definition of Free Cultural Works, free cultural work. De ...

Open content
*
Share-alike The copyleft.html"_;"title="Creative_Commons_icon_for_Share-Alike,_a_variant_of_the_copyleft">Creative_Commons_icon_for_Share-Alike,_a_variant_of_the_copyleft_symbol Share-alike_is_a_Copyright.html" ;"title="copyleft_symbol.html" ;"title="copylef ...
*
Software licensing A software license is a legal instrument (usually by way of contract law, with or without printed material) governing the use or redistribution of software. Under United States copyright law, all software is copyright protected, in both source c ...


References


External links


FSF guide to the new drafts of documentation licenses




essay by Richard Stallman
Apple's Common Documentation License
, an alternative license {{DEFAULTSORT:Gnu Free Documentation License GNU Project Free content licenses Software documentation Copyleft Free Software Foundation Free and open-source software licenses Copyleft software licenses