Why the GPL is fine for documentation (where desired)
Posted Mar 17, 2005 7:39 UTC (Thu) by rickmoen
In reply to: Why the GPL is wrong for documentation
Parent article: Linux Device Drivers, Third Edition now online
Joe Buck wrote:
You think there are no problems with applying the GPL to documentation? OK, here's one. You have a GPLed manual, printed out on paper. You give it to a friend. Is that legal?
Answer: no, unless you jump through some extra hoops. You need to either provide your friend with the source code for the book (LaTex source, DocBook, OpenOffice file, whatever), or you need to give your friend a written offer, good for three years, to provide the source later on whenever he demands it (though you can charge a fee to cover your expenses in doing this).
Actually, since you're a non-comercial redistributor, you simply pass along upstream's offer of access to the preferred format, persuant to GPLv2 clause 3c.
The obvious place to use GPL for documentation is for HTML docs, or online docs with builtin hyperlinks to SGML or XML source, etc. In that case the "Master copy is at [URL]" header serves as the aforementioned upstream written offer, regardless of how the thing gets subsequently redistributed.
And that's pretty much what Michael Stutz wrote, too.
to post comments)