Talk:GNU Free Documentation License

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New GNU Licensed Project - Need opinion[edit]

Hey, there is a new collaboratively written blook that has GNU license. It explores public issues and current US foreign policy obstacles. Do you guys think it is good enough to add to the list? its Please advise.


Maybe it would be a good idea to create a disambiguition page for GFDL which redirects to this page. GFDL also can stand for Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory for which an article already exists. Gulliveig 08:55, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Que significa desambiguacion. Llevo meses tratando de comprender. Perdón, hello fr Kymberly 62 (talk) 08:35, 26 November 2017 (UTC)

debian-legal conclusion[edit]

Has debian-legal finally concluded that FDL with IS is non-free? The last that I heard, it was still a matter of some debate; although things certainly seemed to be headed to that conclusion, I'm surprised that it's already been reached. In particular, is the FSF's documentation for emacs being moved to /nonfree/? -- Toby Bartels 21:17, 7 Sep 2003 (UTC)

They had a survey, which showed (AFAICT) that the majority concluded that GFDL was incompatible with the DSFG *even without Invariant Sections*. In particular, they seem to regard the "anti-DMCA" provisions (cannot use technical measures to prevent further copying and viewing of copies you make or distribute) to be non-free. Martin 23:41, 7 Sep 2003 (UTC) nathaniel.mcfadden@senate.state Talking books topics / Damienthorne524 (talk) 00:12, 21 October 2017 (UTC)

Using GFDL materials with the GFDL as an invariant section?[edit]

I was thinking about including some material from some GNU manuals in several Wikipedia articles. While these materials are released under the GNU Free Documentation License, they use the GFDL itself as an invariant section. Two things:

  1. Isn't the GFDL essentially an invariant section already? You need to include it with any copy of the text. Why is it necessary to include it as an invariant section?
  2. Can I post the material at all, and if so, do I need to include a note such as: This material requires the GNU Free Documentation License as an invariant section, or is that already implied?

Thank you, -- Mattworld 22:04, 14 Oct 2003 (UTC)

I've read the discussion below, but I'm not able to see any answer to the question in general (i.e. how to include GFDL texts with invariant sections, front matter etc). The copyright page seems to me to contradict itself: on the one hand, you may not submit works with invariant sections, on the other, you must retain any invariant sections (etc). The only conclusion I can reach is that you cannot in general reuse GFDL works for the Wikipedia(?) -- Ketil
Legally a puzzler, but the first question should be: which parts of GNU manuals are encyclopedic? All the bits I can think of are inappropriate for Wikipedia; we should be summarizing the manuals if anything, not dumping them in here verbatim. Stan 22:23, 14 Oct 2003 (UTC)
There was a history section in one of the manuals that would have fit perfectly in Wikipedia; however, I now plan to summarize it, so this isn't that big of an issue. I'm still slightly curious as to the answer, though. -- Mattworld 22:34, 14 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Invariant sections aren't welcome in Wikipedia (though you're welcome to separately distribute a derivitive of a Wikipedia article that does include invariant sections). I'm mighty curious now about the docs... which are they? --Brion 23:37, 14 Oct 2003 (UTC)
In this case though, I think it might not be a problem. You already have to distribute an invariant copy of the GFDL along with any GFDL-licensed material, so including the GFDL itself as an invariant section isn't actually adding any new restrictions--it's just being redundant and restating the same restriction in a different way. --Delirium 01:44, Oct 15, 2003 (UTC)
A GFDL text can be redistributed under a later version of the GFDL. If you put a copy of the license in an invariant section, that that older version will need to be distributed with the text even if you're putting it out under a later version. Can somebody please point out the actual texts under discussion so more than speculation can take place here? --Brion 00:50, 16 Oct 2003 (UTC)
At the GNU site When should a section be invariant? it states that the GFDL is an invariant section [see § 4(H)]. If it is an earlier version of the GFDL that says it can also be released under a later version of the GFDL (i.e. originally ver. 1.1 released under ver. 1.2) then can not the older version be replaced by the newer version as the newer version is already an invariant section in a GFDL work? If it is only released only under ver. 1.1 of the GFDL (does not specifically state that it may be released under a later version) then would that make it incompatible with the GFDL here which is of a "later version" variety? Most of the changes in the later version seems to be just clarifications of the earlier version; is there any reference some one can point to that states how the two versions are incompatible and not just clarifications that have the same legal import? The only two I can find are (1) the five principal author listing (all the authors must be listed in 1.1; this is clearly not problem with Wikipedia as the history pages list all the authors of a particular GFDL work) and (2) 1.2. has the optional warranty disclaimers added so 1.1 is just 1.2 without any disclaimers in that regard; so maybe there is backward compatibility if no warranty disclaimers are used. In the license it is stated that if a use of the license invokes the language "any later version" that a user can decide which version to re-release the material under; as the GFDL is already an invariant section; this indicates that you can release 1.1 under 1.2 even if 1.1 is listed separately as an invariant section because you cannot take away any of the rights granted in the GFDL under § 9 (i.e. the right to use a later version cannot be revoked). BTW if no version number is listed the GFDL (§ 10) states any version can be used; so there is an argument that by making the GFDL an invariant section it then invokes any version of the GFDL even if the version used to release the document does not state that any version can be used. Thus, as a rule, a general statement that the "GNU Free Documentation License" is an invariant section (without reference to the version number) would appear to imply that one can use any version of the license — in such a case it does not appear necessary to provide a copy of the predecessor license as a separate invariant section. — Alex756 05:59, 19 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Some seemingly minor thing - if a material is released under v.1.1, one can name history section as "page history" or "document history," but v.1.2 seems to prohibit that (see at the definition section.) So, some people might prefer ver. 1.1, indeed. Also, isn't there a problem if English wikipedia's article is translated into other wikipedia that uses a previous version of the GFDL? Tomos 22:41, 29 Oct 2003 (UTC)

some questions about compliance[edit]

  • The ver 1.2 of GFDL seems to indicate that Page history section should really named "History." (See the "APPLICABILITY AND DEFINITIONS" part)
  • I am not sure if it is GFDL compliant when a page is modified and the names of the authors are not listed at the title page. Of course, the title "page" does not exist for Wikipedia. But GFDL specifically mention to such a case, and says that we should use some space between the title and the main text. So it seems that the strict compliance would be to display names of authors after the articles' title. Currently, we have authors' names in page history section.
  • I am not sure if it is GFDL compliant when a person A uploads an image to a wikipedia, and a person B uses that image in an article. Is the article "modified version" of the image in GFDL's sense? I am really not sure...

Tomos 22:41, 29 Oct 2003 (UTC)


How do translated works fall under this? --, 21:37, 12 Feb 2004

See Modifications, i.e. a translation is a modification of the work. (talk) 20:31, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

History of the GFDL[edit]

When was the GFDL "born"? Guaka 22:14, 31 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The article could do with some history. As it currently stands it does not even mention the earlier version 1.1. I have tried to track down some history about the license, but there doesn't seem to be much on line. -- Popsracer 13:22, 13 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Ean Schuessler's invariant section[edit]

I've removed Ean Schuessler's contributions, as he was only offering them on the condition that we include an undesirable invariant section. Matthew Woodcraft 20:20, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

Matthew Woodcraft's variation of my invariant section[edit]

I still contend that my invariant section was removed illegally. To legally remove my intellectual property you would have to roll the state of the document back to a previous version that was free of the invariant section attached to my input. We are still talking about my invariant section and it is still referenced in the history, therefore you have not "removed" my IP and associated invariant section but have rather masked it behind a confusing web interface that makes access more difficult. This entire site is a composite document and unless it deletes "undesirable" IP with "undesirable" invariant sections Wikipedia is still in violation.

Please take note that my original invariant section was intended entirely to demonstrate the folly of the GNU "Free" Documentation License and not add any useful value in and of itself. Ean Schuessler 19:50, 21 October 2004 (Dallas Texas Time!)

Ean, if you think the intermediate versions should be removed from Wikipedia's database, you should ask the administrators to do that and see what they say. They're unlikely to be reading this talk page. Matthew Woodcraft
Matthew, after further analysis I see that the copyright of Wikipedia disallowed invariant sections at the time of my prank. I apologize for my inability to read the instructions. One might make the argument, however, that you should be required to "click-through" the wikipedia usage agreement before adding content. A side note at best. I'm just making excuses.

Using the information[edit]

At the least I'd like to see a link in the article to something that covers this assuming there is such a place but....

The FDL seems like it was designed for software manuals. In that case it makes sense. There is most likely very little data in the manual that is useful outside of the software the manual is for.

But, for an encyclopedia ????? What consistituts reproducing the document? If my 8 year old son is doing a report on Nebraska and he gets info from the Wikipedia is his report now FDLed? If not, why? If he includes a quote from the Wikipedia or just adds the Wikipedia to his bibilography is his report now FDLed?

For the quote, no because it falls under US fair use guidelines. For the bibliography, no because copyright protects expression, not content. Superm401 22:24, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I may sounds silly but I could read nothing in the FDL the specifically gives permission to re-use the info in the document outside of the document without making that info also FDLed.

That permission is unnecessary as no copyright protects against others using information from your work. It only protects the exact way the information is expressed. Of course, it is preferable to cite your sources even when you copy no text from them. However, this is an ethical, not a legal issue. Superm401 22:24, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Like I mentioned, this makes sense for a software manual, even an example that might be useful for another piece of software being lifted out the some FDLed manual I can see why the FDL would frown on that without the other manual becoming FDLed as well but an Encylopedia is a different thing. It would seem to me under the current wording of the FDL that I should never read anything on the Wikiepedia with out full knowledge that any info gained from reading it cannot be reproduced else where without making that new thing FDLed.

I couldn't go researching this history of the middle east on the Wikipedia for an article in the New York Times without making either that article or that entire edition of the New York Times be FDLed. I'm sure some of you will see that as a good thing but an Encyclopedia with those kinds of restrictions is not really useful outside.

As for precident on not sharing info there are plently of private reports with specific licenses that require you not to share the info. The TRST reports from for example. So the idea that the info on the Wikipedia might not be useable in general because of it's license is definiately a possibility.

I think this needs to be spelled out somewhere. Is the info useable without restriction or not? If I research something here and post the results of my research on my website is my website now FDLed? If not, where is the specific exclusion for that kind of reproduction?

There is a huge difference between copying the text and copying the information. If you copy FDLed text into another text, that other text can only be published under the terms of the FDL. But using the information is no problem, just as with any other encyclopedia or text (unless it contains patented algorithms or stuff like that). Also, if you would copy text from Wikipedia into an article for the NYT or a book, or anything else, I think that only implies that the article that contains the line should be FDLed. Not the entire work. Just like including the Wikipedia no a CD doesn't mean that the entire CD should be FDLed. G-u-a-k-@ 20:18, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)

mirrors and attribution[edit]

Hi - I've asked this question a couple of times in discussions of a specific WP mirror site, (see Mirrors and forks) but maybe this is a more appropriate place. Question: for a site using WP text to comply with GFDL, if they have each article on a separate page as we do, do they have to credit Wikipedia on each page? Or is a single mention of Wikipedia on the site's main page adequate? Based on the wording of Wikipedia:Copyrights - "a direct link back to the article satisfies our author credit requirement" - it seems to me that each article is supposed to have some sort of acknowledgement. Yes? HobTalk 03:23, 2004 Aug 15 (UTC)

Invariant Sections Question[edit]

I was reading about the GFDL and some of the arguments against using it. The section about Invariant Sections seemed particularly interesting. My understanding of it is that if a portion of a document licensed under the GFDL is labelled an Invariant Section it cannot be modified or removed from any subsequent versions of the document, i.e. it will be included, unaltered, with the document in question forever. Am I right in this interpretation or am I completely misunderstanding the license (quite possible as I am nowhere near an expert on legal issues)? Basically, I'm wondering if a vandal could post an Invariant Section to Wikipedia and therefore make it be part of the encyclopedia forever? I'm sure that can't be how it works, but thats what it sounds like to me. Where am I going wrong? Some of the discussion above seemed to be about similar questions but I didn't see any consensus... Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks - biggins 19:36, 6 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not allow invariant sections. Adding an invariant section would be in violation of our copyright policy so should be removed in the same way as any other violating text. Angela. 00:31, Sep 13, 2004 (UTC)
In any case, rolling back from the version with the invariant section (B) to an earlier version without it (A) ought to allow you to continue to derive from that earlier version without including the invariant section. The really tricky question is whether you could use material that had been added to document B to create its derivative (C) before rollback. I think if you did use that later material you would be bound by the terms added by the invariant section and would be reimporting them into your new document (D) even after rollback. Does that make sense? (No user name; 20 Oct 2004)

Invariant Sections, etc[edit]

note: To keep things simple, we don't use Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts, or Back-Cover Texts

er, what are invariant sections, front-cover texts and back cover texts? Dunc_Harris| 18:57, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Stuff the GFDL talks about. -- orthogonal 18:59, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)
They come from book/journal publishing. Sections of a journal that are the same in every issue (editorial board, instructions to authors, that sort of thing) and the text on inside and outside of the front and back cover. Filiocht 07:58, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)
No, that's incorrect. They're defined in the license.--Bcrowell 04:54, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Fair use and GFDL[edit]

From the article: However in some specific cases, commercial re-uses may be fair use and in that case such materials do not need to be licensed to fall within the GFDL if such fair use is covered by all potential subsequent uses.

It is not possible for all potential subsequent uses to be fair use. I am not sure if this is what the above sentence says but English is not my mother tongue. I believe fair use claim for distribution is valid (if it is valid at all) regardless of subsequent uses. Could someone clarify this section, I would do it myself but a native speaker would do it better. at0 22:08, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

So quoted material should not be used on wikipedia? How about documentation of material learned at one point from textbooks? I'd really like to help, but I'm not sure what exactly I'm allowed to do.

BIG QUESTION: Moral Rights, Wikipedia and the FDL?[edit]

I haven't gone through the FDL properly yet but I wonder: how does it deal with moral rights? Has the situation of a Wikipedia contributor deciding to be difficult and exerting their moral rights to attribution or (God forbid) integrity been anticipated and dealt with? Is this a potential SCO code situation that could cause Wikipedia real difficulties? The Wikipedia enty on moral rights says they can be waived in "some jurisdictions". Are there any where they can't be waived? Is there an explicit waiver clause? Is one needed? (No user name; 20 October 2004)

In the U.S., there is no statutory basis for "moral rights" for text and I am unaware of any case law supporting such a concept. Even in Europe, where there is a statutory guarantee of moral rights, I think it most unlikely that a case could be made, because contributors know exactly how their contribution will be utilized and attributed before they contribute. I think that the most defensible construction is that the Wikipedia text is in its entirety a collaborative work with shared authorship, and that the joint authors have agreed to GFDL licensing.
IANAL and my view is not widely shared in the Wikipedia community. There have been no serious tests of the GFDL in the courts and so many things could change. Because Wikipedia is a worldwide project and because there isn't any case law on copyleft or on massive collaboration, anything is possible. I would expect the courts to rule in such a way as to preserve the project, because Wikipedia is now big enough, important enough, and well enough liked that there would be hell to pay if the courts shut it down over a technicality.
Images are another matter because in most cases the creative effort can be clearly attributed to one person.
uc 13:28, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
:o)IAAL (albeit trainee) and an IP one at that. I'm also the same anonymous user that posted the original question. I don't know the answer to it but it's something that should be thought about very carefully. The size and usefulness of Wikipedia may not be enough to outweigh these rights if they do exist and someone tries to exert them. Although it can be difficult for authors to exert moral rights and it might seem an unlikely situation, I expect it's something Wikipedia would want certainty on rather than taking a 'hope and pray' approach. The 'mercilessly edited and redistributed at will' notice on the edit page may be there for that reason? It doesn't seem to mention the right to attribution though.
The size and "importance" and the amount by which it is "well liked" may not be enough to save Wikipedia, especially if what I have heard about the lawsuits (especially by the European Union against Microsoft is correct. Brianjd

A couple things to keep in mind. i) The GFDL was adopted by the project early on and in recognition that it is not perfect, but in consideration that it would have been difficult at best to do any better at that time and with the limited resources then available. ii) There is probably nothing more that can be done now than what is already done. iii) All this pales by comparison to the fact that the project faces legal exposure regarding DMCA violations (of infringing materal posted from elsewhere that hasn't been caught and of supposed "fair use" material where an affirmative defense would have to be mounted) and libel. iv) In light of that, "hope and pray" is probably not the worst approach.

You might consider sharing your thoughts with User:Alex756 who is an attorney and has been involved with the project at times, including some pro bono work. I believe there is also a mailing list for Wikipedia legal issues.

uc 16:22, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The wikilegal-l mailing list is defunct and has been replaced by foundation-l for matters relating generally to the Wikimedia Foundation. Legal issues can be discussed there, but the list is not dedicated specifically to that subject. --Michael Snow 18:12, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I don't think Wikipedia as a project has a particular problem with moral rights (that is, the right of an author to be credited with creating a work, even if he has sold the copyright to someone else). The GFDL requires that the names of authors are preserved, and we keep a full record of exactly who wrote what in the history of each article.

The problem with crediting authors is more an issue for people reusing our content under the GFDL - the problem being that reproducing the history section could take up more space than the actual article in many cases - a real problem for paper copies. The practical solution used by people who reuse our content is to link back to the Wikipedia article, so that readers can look there to see who wrote it. It's an imperfect solution, but one that I think fulfils the spirit of the requirements of the GFDL and (european) copyright law in crediting authors. Neither copyright law nor the GFDL ever anticipated that there could be so many authors to a work that giving credit to all the authors could become a real burden.

Enchanter 17:25, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)

Moral rights are generally taken far more seriously with respect to works that are highly creative in nature (e.g. art, music, literature). For these works, moral rights reflect a strong social sense that the creativity is associated with the mind of the creator, who is therefore entitled to a say in how the work is presented. Due to the nature of an encyclopedia (do you ever look to see who actually wrote the article in other encyclopedias?), particularly one with policies like NPOV and a highly collaborative model, the amount of creativity associated with any individual author is far smaller. In this context, the claim of moral rights appears less strong. While not guaranteed, I consider it eminently possible that a court dealing with someone trying to assert moral rights against Wikipedia might respond that those rights entitle the person to nothing more than what we already give them (attribution in page history plus the ability to edit the page again). --Michael Snow 18:12, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

A messieurs les Anglais ![edit]



There's a French translation of the GFDL at [1]. Angela. 15:13, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

I removed this bit:

The Debian project no longer uses the GNU FDL for this, and possibly other, reasons.

I don't think Debian rejects the GFDL because it permits adding invariant sections: BSD licenses also allow this, and Debian is happy with those.

Matthew Woodcraft
"Happy" is an overstatement. Many Debian developers and users are in fact uncomfortable with the "mandatory advertising" clause of the old 4-clause BSD license. Some because it's GNU GPL-incompatible, others because they're uncomfortable with mandatory text of any sort apart from copyright notices, warranty disclaimers, and license texts. There have been moderately successful efforts over the years by the Debian Project to persuade contributors and upstream licensors to switch away from the 4-clause BSD license (as the Regents of the University of California did for BSD itself many years ago).

Overly broad DRM clause[edit]

I know that license debates can be heated and I stayed clear of them for now. Nevertheless, the main page had some pecularities under the heading 'Overly broad DRM clause'.

To say or suggest that the FSF has `a hidden agenda to discourage the use of proprietary software' is absurd. This smells like the average conspiracy theory. The FSF is not known for hidden agendas. Instead, they state it very clearly: the FSF discourages the use of proprietary software. So, yes, the FSF has an agenda but certainly not hidden.

Aside from this error, I did not understand the criticism of the quote that is given under this heading. I've dug a bit in the history of this page and I see that the arguments given in the main article are rephrased from the external links. However, the external links were perfectly clear to me, whereas the orginal article left me with confusion.

It seems that three separate points were being made.

  • The first criticism seems directed at the restrictions on local copies of GDFL licensed documents. People are worried that you cannot save a local copy in a proprietary format even if the original stays available in an open format.
  • A problem with a broad interpretation of `technical measures' Reading the reference "why you shouldn't use the GNU FDL", I also see mention of technical measures, where this mention is used as a clarification of the former argument. Therefore, it seems bogus as an additional criticism.
  • The last concern is about using proprietary software or file formats with build-in DRM features to distribute the content. Indeed, this is a restriction of the GFDL.

I've tried to clarify the text on the first and third point, while dropping the second. Furthermore, I've given the external links a more prominent place, since they are worth a read.

Jan van Male 18:37, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Public domain[edit]

What's the difference between GFDL and PD images? There seems to be a strong similarity between the 2. --SuperDude 00:45, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Try the Reference Desk. Tyrenius 04:56, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
PD or public Domain documents can be used for derivitive works, they do not need a liscense. GFDL are specfically NOT PD, or public Domain documents, as their liscense must be accompanied with the work, and you cannot deny others the right to copy, distrubute and/or modify them. PD documents can become non PD documents through derivitive works. GFDL documents cannot. Read the Richard Stallman article for context. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:52, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Using GNU FDL images[edit]

When I'm using a GNU FDL image in a commercially published article I wrote on my own, do I have to GNU-FDL my article, as a GNU FDL image has been used? --Abdull 09:20, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

GFDL & public domain[edit]

Is there a difference between liscensing something under the GFDL, and releasing it into the public domain? If so, what? Which one is less restrictive to future users of the work? Where should I use one or the other if I want to release something? Can anyone help? Trevdna 15:25, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

GNU Free Documentation Licence is obviously more restricted than public domain : public domain means no licence and no copyright, so something with a licence is into the movement of restriction and control, and in fact as nothing to do with freedom (even if the term free is part of the name GFDL). I think we should put into question the free nature of Wikipedia. Is Wikipedia really a free encyclopedia ? And what is GFDL ? What is copyleft ? It seems obvious that copyleft is copyright. Copyleft is from the same nature of copyright, born from the frustation that others do not comply with your demands. Demanding freedom is precisely manifesting lack of freedom, you don't need to demand freedom when freedom is. And what happens when this demands are not fullfilled ? Frustation. And action born from frustration is action born from the irrationnal, from the conflict, and gives raise also itself to the complexity of conflict. To understand what means giving up control, we must understand the nature of control, which expresses itself into the copyleft as well as the copyright. As long as the contents is published with a licence, whatever it is, these contents are not free. Because licensing is the very negation of freedom. Licenses try to regulate, to control, and implies complexity, lawyers, courts and so one. Freedom means the complete end of ownership and control, both inner and outer control. As far as I'm concerned, I publish contents into my own website into public domain, and then copy this content inside this "free" encyclopedia, to avoid GFDL constraints. Public domain is the world of anonymousness, and authentic collaboration : here lies freedom. Licensing is not freedom, it is only a new kind of rules and laws men are building in their attempt to grasp freedom. Freedom can not be jailed into a text, explaining what freedom is. So ask yourself if Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia or not : understanding the nature of freedom will give you a clear and lucid view of facts, independently of what someone says on these facts. And understanding can be here, when freedom of exploring such a question is here. Is there freedom to explore this question : is Wikipedia a free encyclopedia ? Or do you stating that Wikipedia is free, killing the question ? -- 28 December 2005

Copyleft like in the GPL, another GNU license, ensures that code is always free. Otherwise that same code can be taken, embraced/extended, and then extinguished so that it's worthless and the proprietary code wins and profits from it's destruction-- making it NON-FREE. I'm sure something similar goes for books.

Using GFDL soures in WP?[edit]

Can someone wikilink the appropriate WP policy on GFDL sources in WP, and add this to the article?

We have a copyvio dispute at discrete Hankel transform, because the article contains source taken from the GSL manual, which is GFDL'ed. However, the GSL GFDL has "invariant front and back cover texts" which were not preserved, leading to the copyvio problem. linas 17:18, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Nomination: Article Improvement Drive (AID)[edit]

This article has been nominated for an "AID", which could end it in becoming a featured article, but the person who nominated it didn't announce the nomination very much, so 5 vote-getting days have been lost. AID nominees need to get a certain number of votes each week, otherwise they get put in the rejected pile.

To vote for this article to receive an AID, go to Wikipedia:Article Improvement Drive#GNU_Free_Documentation_License, and add your name. Gronky 18:24, 30 January 2006 (UTC) (updated 3 February 2006)


Could someone provide a summary of the pertinent subject matter of the Article reformulated in the English language, said summary being intended for the benefit of such readers as who happen not to be intellectual property lawyers? LambiamTalk 00:06, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

--I concur with this, I have read this a few times, and there are a lot of terms that are special vocabulary, and I have difficulty understanding any of it at all.Kei Yuki (talk) 06:48, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

What is strictly meant by 'text'[edit]

This is the material at the end of a page I just looked at -

"All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License."

Just what is 'text' - the document, which is a paragraph and an image, or just the alphabetic text? --Dumarest 15:15, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

I am not expert, but I would say an image could only be considered text if it is an image of text. See wiktionary:text.
I agree, but if the image were of text, then presumably the image itself is not available, but the text in the image is (i.e. it can be typed out and then reproduced). This is of course a legal nicety.Tyrenius 04:53, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Pictures under the GFDL[edit]

I was just wondering on the restrictions of this license in terms of commercial use. Are photos released under the GFDL allowed to be used for commercial purposes without notifying the photographer? Thanks, --Fir0002 08:34, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes, provided that you comply with the licence's terms. The licence is not too difficult to read. Gronky 10:35, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

You have to release it under the same license but you can make a profit from it. HighInBC 19:15, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

I also want to use some pictures from here, but the terms of the GFDL seem ridicuously onerous. A full copy of that huge document just to use a picture in a leaflet? Am I reading it wrong, or is GFDL completely inappropriate for pictures? Ibiggun 22:57, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm glad the license is not too difficult to read, but I am having trouble understanding it. I came here to try to find out how this license applies to images, and the article seems to clearly state that it is a document license, not an image license. "The license was designed for manuals, textbooks, other reference and instructional materials, and documentation which often accompanies GPL software. However, it can be used for any text-based work, regardless of subject matter."
If you use an image licensed under GFDL, "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 ever be removed, at least not until the work enters the public domain after copyright expires." it appears you have to maintain all this information with every copy. So, if you use an image on a pamphlet, for example, all of this information must be included. If you download and frame an image, legally you cannot do so without also including this license, it seems. I finally simply asked the photographer if I could use his image, and he freely gave me permission to do so, but I still don't understand how this applies to images. If it's "not too difficult to read" why doesn't it include any information in the article about images? It's all about documents. Ibiggun seems right to me, it's "completely inappropriate for pictures." KP Botany 20:19, 31 December 2006 (UTC)


The largest project using the license is Wikipedia, a general-purpose encyclopedia, but the license is not particularly popular among more serious projects.

Why is Wikipedia not a serious project? I don't have an alternative wording, but I don't think this one fits. -- 21:17, 7 Sep 2006 (UTC)

Is the above statement a POV? I feel that explicit reasons on why this license is not particularly popular among more serious projects and citations are needed here to verify the statement. --Siva1979Talk to me 17:49, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Are you guys clueless??[edit]

I was trying to upload a picture to a Wikipedia article, with the permission of the owner of the original page, and, frankly, I've purely given up. Are you guys clueless? What the hell is with this huge, elaborate rigamarole of permissions and pages and pages of liscence agreement and garbage?

This is just way way too complicated. I mean, I don't mind reforming permissions and copyrights, but you want to make it SIMPLER, not adding layers and layers of complexity.

The language you WANT to have for Wikipedia can be done in about six words. "This image is used with permission."

Period. That's it. Kill the four screens full of legal mumbo jumbo and crap, I don't want to wade through it.

Geoffrey.landis 21:12, 16 September 2006 (UTC)Geoff

No, we are not clueless. The reason for all of the "legal mumbo jumbo" is that we (as long-time Wikipedia contributors) have been burned enough times and enough clueless individuals are uploading stuff to Wikipedia without permission that we are trying to scare the c**@!#$ out of anybody who wants to violate copyright laws or even tries to upload a borderline image. This is not to discourage legitimate contributions but rather to make sure that what is uploaded can be used and used widely.
This has been a gradual process of becoming increasingly blunt on disclaimers, and pushing harder to be more "legit" on some of the borderline content. I will admit that I've made a few mistakes in the past and uploaded content that perhaps didn't have explicit permission. And that content was deleted. That is essentially all we are trying to say is that if you upload something without documentable proof that permission has been granted explicitly with terms compatable with GFDL content, it will deleted. Likely to be sooner than later as well.
For myself, I wish it were so simple as to have only the six words you use above. Unfortunately we live in an incredibly litigious society and Wikipedia has become a nice target for lawsuits already. There is a full-time legal team even now (well, many part-time and pro-bono lawyers helping out to give the equivalent) that is defending against nearly constant legal assults against Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. What you are reading is the unfortunate result of many years of trying to develop this project and bruises from people who don't care. --Robert Horning 09:21, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

I too am trying to upload a third party image. It's been rather perplexing, so I agree with the author, the process could be simpler or friendlier, have a nicer interface, flow more to the benefit of the user -

Hello, I'm the new friendly wiki upload guide! I help you upload things. So, what would you like to upload? Please choose a category from the following easy to understand list -
  • A - some porn
I'm sorry you can't do that although please send all files to $%^$^%$the_pronmeister$%^$^%$ and he will study them closely just in case. Click button A below to begin this process.
  • B - some photos you've just seen on the web
well, it's very possible, please get permission from the author of these images and come back. Then we'll talk all about licences and ask you some more questions. Please click Button B below.
  • C - a scan of something that you thought was interesting, like a rare manuscript you bought at a market stall recently at surprisingly little cost or the last Dear John letter you received.
Note, scans of your bottom belong in category A, but are generally not considered appropriate. Therefore please do not submit them. For all other scans please click Button C.
  • D - your very own piccie perhaps of your cute cat or similar
great! Now we'll talk about
i: possible relevance of your cat to wikipedia, and
ii:licencing, tho not in the same way as for answer B or C so please click Button D.

Something like that. Hakluyt bean 23:08, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

help: minimum verbiage required for gfdl on image (name firstborn child!)[edit]


I want to ask a non-US semi-governmental website to release an image under GFDL. I'm not sure how good their English may be; I need brevity and clarity when I ask....

SO:What is the minimum yet still legal verbiage they would need to put on the page to make it kosher?? [Or is verbiage on the page itself even enough?]

I want to state these things very clearly in the request letter... I deeply appreciate your help. Give me the correct answer, and I will name my firstborn child after you...--Ling.Nut 17:29, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

See the Wikipedia:Copyrights section of the site for more information on getting permission for images to be licensed under the GFDL. -- 22:13, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Does this mean I have to name my kid He'll get beat up every day in the playground! :-) Thanks.. --Ling.Nut 22:16, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

factually inaccurate external link[edit]


says the following:

However, I have since been made aware of another issue. The GFDL says the following:
"You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute."
This was intended to attack DRM systems, but it is far too broad. It applies to private copies made and not distributed. "Technical measures" is not defined. The natural interpretation includes activities like encrypting a copy, storing it on an encrypted filesystem, or even storing it on a file-sharing system with non-world-readable permissions. This is evidently not free.

That is such a wild misinterpretation of the FDL that it's absurd to keep this link in the article. We should not mislead our readers. "Private copies made and not distributed" is something the FDL doesn't care about. Since this is so glaringly inaccurate, I'm taking it out. Some other, factually sound criticism of the FDL would be welcome in its place. — coelacan talk — 20:34, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Then you should be getting rid of [2] too, the "The "DRM" restriction" is the first thing it talks about. --Benn Newman 02:28, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
Huh? That doesn't say anything like "It applies to private copies made and not distributed.... The natural interpretation includes activities like encrypting a copy, storing it on an encrypted filesystem, or even storing it on a file-sharing system with non-world-readable permissions" or anything of the sort. That is what I have a problem with. The debian link seems to be talking about the DRM stuff with factual accuracy. — coelacan talk — 02:40, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand why you say it doesn't. The first numbered point from that section says, "it is not limited to the act of distribution (i.e., it applies to private copies as well)," and point three says in part, "as written, it would outlaw actions like changing the permission of a copy of the document on your machine, storing it on an encrypted file system, distributing a copy over an encrypted link" --Benn Newman 14:05, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
You're right. I'm sorry, I guess I completely failed in my comprehension. I'll go revert my deletion now. Thanks for clearing my head =) — coelacan talk — 22:11, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

GFDL 2.0[edit]

I have read the draft for the new GFDL 2.0. It mentions a GNU Wiki license. Does anyone know anything about this? Could it possibly be a way to make compatible with the CC-BY-SA license????? Does anyone know anything about any current effort to make these two similar licenses more compatible?--Bjwebb (talk) 20:47, 29 December 2006 (UTC)


What does all this mean in relation to pictures? I don't see how this applies to images. I've asked, no one has answered. Does it apply to images? Can it be compatable and used with images? KP Botany 02:00, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Yes. Gronky 12:27, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, some people release their images under a GFDL license. However, many people seem to think the Creative Commons license is a better choice for images.[3],[4], [5], [6], [7], etc. --DavidCary (talk) 13:38, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Hatnote linking to Wikipedia's copy of the GFDL[edit]

There was some reverting today about having a hatnote linking to Wikipedia:Text of the GNU Free Documentation License. I think having such a link would be a good idea, since the license itself is important to the workings of Wikipedia and a significant number of users might show up at the GFDL article looking for the actual GFDL. Having a prominent, self-referential link to the license would make sense in the same way as the internal links in the hatnotes at the articles "Sandbox" and "Glossary", for example. Thoughts? –Sommers (Talk) 23:49, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

The same link that is at the bottom of every single article? --Benn Newman 04:07, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
It's possible that a confused user could wind up at the GFDL article (by searching for it, for example) trying to find the text of the license, without realizing that the same link at the bottom of every article (which reads "GNU Free Documentation License") leads to something other than the article "GNU Free Documentation License". The hatnote could be helpful and there's no harm in having it there (Wikipedia isn't paper). –Sommers (Talk) 13:29, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
There is an external link to the text of the GFDL, there is a link on nearly every page to the GFDL, when people edit a page, there is a link to the GFDL. WP:NOT#PAPER refers to the content of Wikipedia, not including every possible thing that could be added. There is already a hatnote and I see no reason to add another. --Benn Newman 15:04, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

GNU FDL incompatible with the GPL[edit]

"The GNU FDL is incompatible in both directions with the GPL" - article should explain why. Shinobu 05:29, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

DRM clause and print only work[edit]

Printed only versions,does they qualifie as a form of drm?Imagine having to scan ,ocr and read proof pages and pages,it's even more hard to "crack" then normal drm(a program does this for you).from what i understould ther isn't any specific prohibition from not publishing an electronic form of the work.-- 19:33, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Using Wiki articles on other websites?[edit]

What are, if any, the rules regarding taking an article from Wikipedia and using it on another website? Or how about an image? Can someone please help me undertsand this issue? Thank you. Jtpaladin 19:22, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

This page is like a ghost town; nobody seems to either read or answer questions here. It's too bad, because this is an important page and subject, one that is constantly discussed. Badagnani 17:03, 10 June 2007 (UTC)


I notice that when you select the "GFDL" license from the drop-down menu (when uploading a photo) the tag shows up when editing as "GFDL -- no disclaimers." Is it possible to set it up so that there is a disclaimer stating that the photo may only be used (for any purpose) if the photo is properly captioned and credited to the photographer who took it? If so, this should be added in the drop-down list of image tags (i.e. "GFDL, with credit to..."). I think it's fairly important. The fact that this isn't made clear in the drop-down menu is why I've used, in the past, this license, which does allow one to stipulate that the photo should be properly credited to the name (and sometimes also the website) of the photographer. Thanks for expert input on this. Badagnani 16:32, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Is there some reason why no one is answering this question? If the GFDL is so important to Wikipedia, why has no one taken a moment to address this important issue? Badagnani 23:01, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Because “this is the talk page for discussing improvements to the GNU Free Documentation License article.” You do not want to use the template with disclaimers; see Wikipedia:GFDL standardization. If you include a copyright notice, the GFDL requires that it be preserved in copies, so {{GFDL-self}} does fine. —Benn Newman 01:13, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your response, but I'm afraid I can't make sense of it. Could you please address, in plain, clear English, the point I raised, about the stipulation that the photo be properly captioned and credited? I am not referring to my own photos, but to ones that have been released by the kind permission of Flickr users, and I want to make sure their kindness is properly credited. The GFDL license, as I've stated above, doesn't make it clear how to do this, and it certainly should be, as it's very important. Many thanks. Badagnani 01:17, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Hello, it's been some weeks and I've still had no response to my query. If this license is of such great importance to Wikipedia, one would think that at least one knowledgeable editor would take a few moments to address this very important issue. Badagnani 07:40, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

As the first poster said, the GFDL requires that the attribution you add at the beginning continue to remain with the photo. So it is at least traceable, though it may require someone to go back through the whole edit history to find the data. What isn't so clear to me is if you add your name in the lower right corner of the image, does the GFDL prohibit someone from cropping it off because it's part of the documentation? For that matter, what if a photo bears a watermark with information about the author - does that have to remain? What if the watermark can be used by some "child safety" Internet censorship filter - does the license require it, prohibit it, or both? 18:59, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

GFDL-compatible licenses[edit]

Every Wikipedia edit references this article at the bottom of the page:

Do not copy text from other websites without a GFDL-compatible license. It will be deleted.

Unfortunately, what this links to is GFDL, not GFDL-compatible or GFDL-compatible license. And this article doesn't say what is a GFDL-compatible license. And based on the thing I just read about the 100,000 image files stuck with disclaimers, it sounds like quick and easy assumptions about this legal stuff can go terribly wrong, so... could somebody provide a full subsection (at least) explaining just what is a GFDL-compatible license? 20:27, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Fair use and public licenses[edit]

Is there any information on how public license terms interact with fair use? I would think that if you copy a published work, which is available for free ($0 loss), and use it for noncommercial purposes (i.e. a different free license; $0 profit) that your legal position on "fair use" would be pretty good, unless maybe you copied the entire Wikipedia at one go. But I'm no lawyer... 20:37, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

That happens to be one of the reasons I came to this site. I've used two or three sentences from science news bulletins, and have been giving links to those bulletins in the talk section of articles. So far, nobody has criticized me for it, but I wanted to get the low-down on it, since there's a sentence that says: Do not copy text from other websites without a GFDL-compatible license. It will be deleted.

Brian Pearson 22:53, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Actually, this question refers to "fair use" of material published under one free license to contribute to a project covered by another free license. When copying a commercial news site your fair use may be limited to sentences or paragraphs, but when there is clearly $0 lost and $0 gained, I'd expect "fair use" to be more generous. 18:53, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Text of GNU Free Documentation License[edit]

what is the reason (i'm sure there is one) that the text of the GNU Free Documentation License is not included in this article? you could place it at the beginning or the end, and as long as it's listed in the table of contents a person could go right to it. it seems like it would be an improvement to have the text of the license and an in-depth explanation of the license all be in one place. for instance, i clicked on a link thinking i'd be sent to the text and was not. granted, one more click and i could be there, but it would be more usable if i could just page up or down to get to either.

however, as i began this inquiry, i suspect there is a reason. also, i should apologize, i suppose, for not having checked the history of either article, or the talk page of the license text's article. that is, forgive me if i could have found the answer by digging a little deeper.

WeaselADAPT 00:04, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

GFDL vs GFDL[edit]

Why does GFDL the license take precidence over GFDL the laboratory? Sure, as Wikipedians, the GFDL matters more to *us*, but that's not a good excuse. -- Rei 21:56, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

I wasn't in on the original editing, but this GFDL (1) is rated High rather than Mid importance by its Wikiproject, (2) is longer, (3) is linked to by more articles. If these measures disagreed with each other I'm not sure which I'd go by, but in this case it's clear enough. 18:41, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Crazy "gift with strings" section[edit]

I removed the below blockquoted section which was part of the article. This is just someone's rant, and it doesn't even make sense. The GFDL doesn't impose legal obligations on people. If someone gives you a GFDL'd work, you can listen to it or read it or whatever, or you can delete it if you want. Just like any other work.

The only difference is that while most licences say "you can't redistribute", the GFDL says "you can redistribute if...". There's no requirement to redistribute, so the obligations are completely elective.

== Gift with strings ==

While the GFDL is a self-described "free" license, it is akin to "a gift with strings" from a copyright law perspective.

Generally, a gift, once given, does not impose any future legal obligations on the part of a recipient to the gift giver. When an author dedicates his or her work to the public, anyone can legally reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, or display the work without limitation. Thus, the author is considered to have gifted the work to the public.

In contrast, works covered by the GFDL are accompanied by the legal encumbrances set forth in the terms of the GFDL. While a recipient of a work covered by GFDL may be free to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, or display the work, such activities are not without limitations. The recipient is bound by the terms of the GFDL. The terms of the GFDL, from a legal perspective, are effectively "strings" that bind the recipient.

Accordingly, critics charge that the GFDL is deceptively named, as recipients of works covered under the GFDL are not "free" to distribute the work without legal limitation.

Section removed. --Gronky 20:13, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Commercial use issues[edit]

Have there been no complaints about the commercial uses being a little too broad and unlimited in this license? I understand that the information in GFDL'd content is meant to be freely available, but it seems rather perverse that I, News Corp, or any other entity could, say, port over the entirety of Wikipedia to an ad-revenue generating site without exercising a single edit and not have any responsibility to the people who created such content. It seems like a bit of a dirty-little-secret that a project like WP, which is not publicized as a profit-making enterprise, can, in fact become one with a quick bit of copying-and-pasting. (talk) 14:52, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't understand what you mean by "not have any responsibility to the people who created such content". The GFDL uses a lot of words to spell out the responsibilities of people who make such copies.
Not only "could" other websites copy Wikipedia and slap a bunch of adds around the content, many websites have in fact done so. There's a long list at ABC - DEF - GHI - JKL - MNO - PQR - STU - VWXYZ. See Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks for more information. --DavidCary (talk) 15:34, 31 October 2013 (UTC)


Is the removal of the option where you can require attribution recent? I normally select that option but it is now greyed out. It means that I probably will no longer be uploading any images to Wikipedia. --jmb (talk) 15:05, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Problem with "Enforcement" section[edit]

"Wikipedia, the best known user of the GFDL, has never taken anyone to court to enforce its license."

Not only is this possibly irrelevant and/or incorrectly worded (the article itself makes several such mistakes), it is also incorrect, because Wikipedia does not own the copyright to any of the GFDL text it hosts. Who owns GFDL text? The individual editors themselves. There is a very widespread and needless to say extremely incorrect view among people that Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation actually own the GFDL content hosted here. Totally wrong. Each individual editor "owns" the copyrights to their own edits, which they thus agree to release under the GFDL, allowing others to modify it. But by editing Wikipedia or any other Wikimedia project, they do not transfer said copyright to the Wikimedia Foundation. Too many people and too many press articles make this mistake of promulgating the myth that editors here "donate" their contributions to Wikipedia. Absolute BS. Editors donate their time and their effort, but not their contributions - because Wikipedia does not own the content nor the copyright to said content.

That said, the stupidity of the above quoted statement lies in the fact that it implies that Wikipedia does indeed own the content. But it doesn't, and therefore Wikipedia/Wikimedia is in absolutely no position to take anyone to court for GFDL violations. The only thing Wikimedia could do is to gather together editors whose copyrights (or copyleft, if you prefer) have been violated and hire a lawyer for them and so forth. However, this is extremely hypothetical and speculative and probably wrong since Wikimedia would most likely never do this, as such litigation would be costly.

This is simply one more example of how widespread misunderstanding is of the nature of Wikipedia and the GFDL - so widespread in fact that most Wikipedia editors themselves seem to be ignorant of them. Szygny (talk) 11:17, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Editors are collaborators, not authors, and therefore have no rights (except for the right granted to them to reuse their contributions elsewhere). The rights are held by the individual projects, as publishers, and the foundation can act on their behalf. Guido den Broeder (talk, visit) 00:20, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
What is the basis for this statement? You've made a similar assertion elsewhere but not backed it up with anything. I think it's completely incorrect, and I suspect most of the rest of us do too. ++Lar: t/c 17:42, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
I'll explain. The basis is the general rules for authorship (irrespective of GFDL), which imply or state that in a collaborative effort any authors must be mentioned explicitly to be recognized as such and be able to claim author rights. Otherwise, the collaboration, here en:Wikipedia, counts as author-publisher. It is the same if you work for a research institute and the institute publishes a report. Sometimes the people who worked on the report are mentioned as authors on the front page, and at other times it's just the institute's publication and the employees have no author rights. In this particular case, I have talked it over with GNU experts, and they agreed with me what I already knew, that Wikipedia editors are not authors. To be authors, they would need to be explicitly declared as such. This is not done with open-encyclopedia articles like the ones on Wikipedia. For essays, the situation is different, e.g. here the author of the essay is explicitly mentioned and therefore is in fact an author in the legal sense. Guido den Broeder (talk, visit) 20:38, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
You've provided a more detailed assertion but again, without basis other than assertion "I've talked with..." Do you have any cites supporting this position? It goes against common practice so if there is a change needed, it will take some considerable convincing of a number of people to effect that change. ++Lar: t/c 23:54, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Show me that common practice is different, since that would surprise me. Guido den Broeder (talk, visit) 13:19, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
The "authors" are explicitly mentioned in the history log of every article. I think you need to show evidence of why the history log is invalid as a record of authorship. Also, you use the phrase "an author in the legal sense". Which legal jurisdiction are you referring to? Copyright law differs greatly around the world and I would assume a legal definition of "author" would also vary. Road Wizard (talk) 13:38, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
No, the collaborators are (including bots, vandals, users undoing vandalism, spelling correctors, etc.) Copyright law doesn't differ that greatly around the world, btw, and the definition of author not at all, although there are philosophical discussions about the value of authorship (e.g. Foucault, "What is an author?"). Authorship must be claimed at the time of publishing. The assignment of authorship can differ vastly, see Academic_authorship, but an assignment must be made or there can be no claim. Guido den Broeder (talk, visit) 15:58, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Again, you are asserting. I suggest you take this up with Mike Godwin, and ask him to render an opinion on whether the GFDL applies to contributions of WMF projects or not. ++Lar: t/c 01:15, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Until there is a court ruling, all anyone can do is asserting re Wikiepdia editors. This is, however, the assertion of experts in the field. I've done my bit of asking around, and provided explanation. If you don't agree it's up to you to find a different expert opinion, or come up with an argument why e.g. a vandal would be an author. As for my general remarks, read any textbook. Guido den Broeder (talk, visit) 10:42, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Feel free to write Mike Godwin and ask him to render an opinion, but otherwise, I think we're done here. I will, however point out that I would view a vandal as an author, of his vandalism, and note that the MediaWiki software properly tracks and attributes his contribution. Even if it's deleted, although in that case only admins can see it. Even if it's oversighted, although in that case it's very hard to track, but it's still trackable. Why wouldn't a vandal be an author of his vandalism? ++Lar: t/c 14:11, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
I suggest that you try and find out for yourself what the word 'author' means. Guido den Broeder (talk, visit) 16:27, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
I am not the one asserting there is a problem. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And let us suppose for the sake of argument that you are correct. What is the action to be taken as a result? What should be changed? Or are you just arguing for the sake of it? That has not stood you well elsewhere. ++Lar: t/c 00:48, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
Nothing needs to be changed if I am correct. There would need to be major changes if you were. And no, I am not arguing, I am explaining, but apparently so to deafman's ears. So this is my last response to you. If you insist on thinking that vandals are authors: fine. Guido den Broeder (talk, visit) 10:54, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Absolutly Confused: Need Guidence[edit]

Hello! I am confused and need some guidence on navigating all this! Quite simply, I was given premission (by the party press secretary) from a political party to upload pictures of their members for their wikipedia entries. Certin of their members belong in government. Under what clause do I upload these images? Additionally, is there a certin verbage the press secretary needs to write out that would be acceptable for permissions? Any help here would be appreciated. Thanks! Drachenfyre (talk) 11:55, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Dual licensed code[edit]

"Because of this, code samples are often dual-licensed so that &c." Is this really safe? For example, does this keep the code protected from being locked up in some proprietary system? Shinobu (talk) 14:09, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

GNU FDL 1.2 is old, and does not protect from the dangers described in GNU GPL 3. IMHO, GPL easily fits for most non-software uses, while FDL does not fit well for non-book usage. But that statement is about “code samples”, which may mean very small samples. --AVRS (talk) 15:41, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Ah yes. Would you judge that that sentence needs clarification? Shinobu (talk) 11:58, 23 February 2008 (UTC)


In the SPIRIT of GPL, isnt the GFDL a DRM? Dosen't that make the self referential DRM statment a bit sticky? Would it be better to read: "You cannot publish copies and/or modified derivations under any OTHER Digital Rights Managment DRM systems, than The GNU free Documentation Liscense, to restrict the possessors of their copies, and or modified derivations." Simply:

1. You cannot use other DRMs
2. You must not restrict GFDLs DRM
3. The GFDL's DRM must accompany the work, i.e. covered under GFDL's DRM.

We now have a GFDLDRM: The GNU's Not Unix Freesoftware Document Liscense Digital Rights CopyLeft Managment System. GNUFDRCMS, or MUD. Multiple Utilitairan DRM. Wtfbbq? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:16, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Really simple question[edit]

I want to copyright, publish and sell book-length foreign language texts with vocabulary glosses. If I include some definitions from Wiktionary -- say the English translation of a word found in a Russian text -- will this put me in violation of the Wiktionary "copyleft"? (talk) 20:34, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

ambiguous sentence[edit]

"It is the counterpart to the GNU General Public License that gives readers the same rights to copy, redistribute and modify a work and requires all copies and derivatives to be available under the same license"

It is not perfectly clear whether the word "that" and the description after it refers to the starting "It is" or to the "GNU General Public License". Maybe that's so just for a non-English native speaker. But even so there are a lot of such here, so may someone please rephrase this sentence to remove the ambiguity? VZakharov (talk) 09:37, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

GFDL 1.3 is released[edit]

It could allow us to move to CC-by-sa-3.0. Did anyone knows more? -- schwarze feder (talk) 19:17, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

  • I'd like to discuss that more. I can see why this is useful, but... this effectively would mean that media released under GFDL 1.2 (which says that it is compatible with any future version) would effectively be released on CC-BY-SA-3.0 too. Isn't this morally bankrupt?? I'd be really upset if I released something SPECIFICALLY under the GFDL 1.2 because I didn't agree with CC-BY-SA licensing for whatever reason, only to find that they've added a clause that allows it to be changed without my permission. Doesn't this also mean that GFDL 1.4 could be released which allows any prior GFDL licensed content to be released into the public domain?? It just seems very wrong that GFDL is forward compatible. The terms of future licenses haven't even yet been written, yet we're explicitly agreeing with them when we release GFDL content.. Hmmmmm. :-/ Diliff | (Talk) (Contribs) 15:00, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
To prevent this from happening, the copyright holder may release content under a fixed version of GFDL, without the "or any later version" proviso. For example, Linux does this (with GPL rather than GFDL, but the same principle applies there). The license per se is not "forward compatible", it depends on its usage. — Emil J. 14:38, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

This may sound really stupid...[edit]

...but what does the 'GNU' stand for? =) (talk) 13:37, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

I recommend looking this up in wikipedia. GNU JoshuaRodman (talk) 00:56, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

How can I know?[edit]

I would like to create some articles with lists of parliamentary speakers. Their names can be found in the websites of the national assemblies. How can I know if the website of the national assembly in question has a GNU Free Documentation License? Can somebody help me with information about such matters?

Mbakkel2 (talk) 16:57, 11 April 2009 (CEST)

Enforcement section[edit]

The content of the Enforcement section is currently:

Wikipedia is one of the best-known works to use the GFDL, but as of 2007, no Wikipedia contributor has yet attempted to enforce the GFDL in court, although its sister, the GNU General Public License, has been successfully enforced in a court of law.

While I don't dispute any of this, it does give me the impression that we're saying that Wikipedia is the yard-stick for GFDL enforcement, i.e., we need not check for other instances of attempted GFDL enforcement, because they're bound to not happen until after Wikipedia first tries to enforce it. I'm sure this isn't the intent of the editors. Perhaps an additional sentence along the lines of

There are no other known attempts to enforce the license.

should be added to make this more clear. If the non-citeability of that sentence is unpleasant, another option would be to preface the section with something like "Although Wikipedia is not the only user of the GFDL, it is one of [...]". (talk) 02:00, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

That would duplicate what it already says, "There have currently been no cases involving the GFDL in a court of law," so no sense adding that sentence. --Ashawley (talk) 04:16, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

It didn't say that when I wrote the above, but I see ViperSnake151 has already improved the section. Thanks. (talk) 22:12, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I was curious if that was the case. Thanks for confirming and apologies, --Ashawley (talk) 14:25, 8 July 2009 (UTC)


Will acta abolish this? (talk) 07:52, 1 September 2010 (UTC)


Unattributed re-use of photos etc on Facebook and other social sites[edit]

After recently joining Facebook, I found that one of my original photos on Wikipedia, and subject to the terms of this license, had been posted without any comment or attribution on a Facebook community group page. Friends of Lightwoods Park[[8]] an scroll down to April 2013 for my image of Lightwoods House in winter [9], which is used in the Wikipedia article on Bearwood[10].

This use is in breach of the license terms of the Wikipedia licenses, not because of the re-use, which we encourage, but because of the failure to give attribution and re-post the license as required.

I have raised this with the Facebook user, and the Facebook community page "owner", with no response. I have now raised this with feedback to Facebook managers, suggesting (a few minutes ago) that they write robots on Facebook to facilitate the Wikipedia license conditions.

Perhaps any Wikipedia management picking up this post may be able to contact Facebook management to discuss this issue. One problem is that posting photos on Facebook without any comment or attribution carries the implication that the poster of the image is the original author / photographer / artist. Robert of Ramsor (talk) 10:43, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

-- (talk) 17:22, 2 April 2014 (UTC)


can someone tell me what this means, it is in Section 2.2 of the article, it really should be written more clearly: "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 under United States copyright law (or fair dealing 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." Greg Dahlen (talk) 13:20, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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legal cases[edit]

"There have currently been no cases..." - when was "currently"? It is important for the readers to know how large a search do they have to do between that "currently" and their own. --Oop (talk) 15:32, 13 March 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference undefined was invoked but never defined (see the help page).