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

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: OK to distribute autoconf.texi under the GPL too?
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 00:42:58 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux)

Bob Friesenhahn <address@hidden> writes:

> But do the distribution restrictions of GPL apply to Autoconf
> documentation which is already formatted into regular ASCII text or
> HTML?  These can not be construed to be source for a "program"

Well, the GPL is not limited to programs.  Section 0 says "This
License applies to any program or other work which contains a notice
placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the
terms of this General Public License."  Clearly ASCII and HTML
versions of the Autoconf documentation are such works.

> so modifying these forms does not appear to incur the GPL
> requirement to make source available for the modified "program".

I don't quite follow your point here.

If someone decided to make the ASCII or HTML version the preferred
format for editing the Autoconf documentation (unlikely, but
possible), then they could do so under the GPL, so long as they
followed the usual GPL provisions.  It would be akin to using Autoconf
to generate a "configure" script from somebody else's GPLed, then hand-editing "configure" and redistributing the
resulting file under the GPL without redistributing the (now-obsolete)  The GPL already allows this, so long as hand-editing is
the preferred way to update the resulting "configure" file.

Conversely, if someone hand-edited autoconf.texi, and generated the
ASCII or HTML version, and distributed the results without
distributing autoconf.texi, that would clearly violate the GPL.

So I guess I still don't understand why the GPL doesn't apply to

Anyway, this part of the discussion seems to be a bit of a sideshow
now.  If the main objection to the GNU FDL for Autoconf is that code
examples can't be copied into GPLed code, then your suggestions of
placing them under the GPL should suffice; we needn't put the whole
manual under the GPL.

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