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Re: OK to distribute autoconf.texi under the GPL too?

From: Bob Friesenhahn
Subject: Re: OK to distribute autoconf.texi under the GPL too?
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 14:39:31 -0600 (CST)

On Fri, 17 Dec 2004, Paul Eggert wrote:

Bob Friesenhahn <address@hidden> writes:

The GFDL is troubling to some, however, the GPL applies to *programs*
so it is not an appropriate license for documentation.

If we consider autoconf.texi to be part of a program that generates
the documentation, what makes the GPL inappropriate?  In what sense
does the GPL provide inadequate protection here?

Autoconf.texi is not part of a program. The texinfo.tex file could be (weakly) construed to be part of a program since it defines macros. Regardless, documentation should be protected by license regardless of whether it has been formatted or not.

GPL does not compel distribution of original files except for those which are actual source to the program or part of the license. It seems that the FSF wants to compel the distribution of modified documentation so they created GFDL.

One approach that Autoconf could take is to provide a special exception so that any sample code copied from the documentation is licensed under the GPL or LGPL rather than GFDL. It makes much more sense to incorportat that exception in GFDL though.

Bob Friesenhahn

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