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The 'GNU Free Documentation License' in plain english.

 7:45 pm on Jun 12, 2006 (gmt 0)


Been researching into the legalities of compiling lots of related Wikipedia content into an sellable ebook. As far as I can tell this is legally OK to do as long as all the content is either licensed under the 'GNU Free Documentation License' or is in the public domain.

Anyone know about the legalities of this that could explain it in plain english? I've read the 'GFDL' article from Wikipedia but I'm not sure I completely understand it. Thanks...



 8:25 pm on Jun 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

It sounds like you're wanting to "write" a book, using GNU-licensed content. But part of the GNU license requirements are that you only charge fees sufficient to cover the costs of transmitting the material.

In short, it appears to me that you can't make a profit from your ebook; you can only charge enough to cover your own costs.

I could be wrong, of course....



 8:53 pm on Jun 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you are unable to understand the intracasies as written of the FDL as written in the license, I would recommend that you avoid publishing FDL content.

You should also understand that once you sell that ebook to someone else, they have full rights to redistribute it under the FDL. I can buy a copy from you and give it to all my friends. I can even sell it on my own website.

If you put any sort of DRM on it, you would certainly be in violation of the spirit of the FDL if not the legal limitations.


 2:03 am on Jun 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually I would be more interested in giving it away for free and just relying on affiliate links for any income.

But the GFDL seems ridiculously complicated so I probably wouldn't even pursue it until I got some good legal advice about it.


 11:57 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

>But part of the GNU license requirements are that you only charge fees sufficient to cover the costs of transmitting the material.<

Sorry if I've got this wrong, but where does it actually say this in the licence?

To me the first sentence of the licence implies that you are allowed to sell GNU material commercially:

"The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document free in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially"

Distributing it without a profit would be non-commercial, so surely the "commercially" part means a profit can be made on distributions?


 4:20 pm on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think they were mistaking it for the "provide source code" provisions of the GPL.

You can sell GPLed software and include the source, but if you don't, you have to provide the source to those you sold the binaries to for no more than your costs.


 12:16 am on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

That seems to be a violation of GNU tos

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