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[Gwm-general] Draft One of "Libre Documentation"

From: Tabatha Persad
Subject: [Gwm-general] Draft One of "Libre Documentation"
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 12:09:53 -0800

Hi there!
Okay, I've read the GWM Objectives, done some research, and have a first draft of the documentation that will outline the definition of "Libre Documentation."
This is plain text, sent in the body of this message (with the exception of the titles, which I put in bold for easier reading).  I'll save the HTML formatting until I hear back on anything I need to add or remove from what I have so far!
Please send feedback!
Libre Documentation & Libre Software Defined

In order to better understand what is meant by the term "Libre Documentation," we need to
explore what Libre means.
To better illustrate this, let us look at the definition of Libre from a "Libre Software"
standpoint.  Libre Software is also known as "Free Software," but this is usually where the
definition becomes skewed.
What most people define as free software is not necessarily really free because it may be
restricted, in that the user may not have access to the source code.  The term "free" with
respect to software and documentation is often misinterpreted to mean "gratis", or free of
In an open source community, this is not an accurate representation of free software, so
instead, the term Libre is used.  In Spanish and French, Libre, as opposed to Gratis, indicates
liberty or freedom rather than price. 
In order for a software application to be considered Libre, these following conditions need
to be met:
1.  The user has the liberty or freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
2.  The user has the liberty to understand how the program works and adapt it to his or her
needs.  This means the source code of the program is available to view and edit.
3.  The user has the liberty to make improvements to the software and release those
improvements to the public, for the benefit of the entire community.
4.  The user has the liberty to redistribute copies or modified copies of the program.
Likewise, for Libre Documentation, the same definition applies.  Libre Documentation is
documentation that one can copy or enhance as long as these inherent freedoms are met.  In
addition, for documentation to be classified as Libre, we need to consider the following:
1.  Documents should come with a human readable and editable source (html, txt, xml are ok,
pdf dvi or ps are not, since they cannot be edited without proprietary software)
2.  They should be copylefted so that new versions can be created from the exisiting base,
just like a software fork
3.  They may be sold, or given away - this freedom should not be impaired by additional
requirements (such as 'no commercial printing allowed')

Protecting Documentation and Software with Licenses
In order to protect these freedoms, software licenses have been developed to ensure that
the software is able to meet the "Libre" qualifications. The license also protects these
programs from becoming proprietary, or commercial, whereby the source code becomes closed
off from the user.
Licenses have also been developed for Libre Documentation, most notably the GNU Free
Documentation License, or FDL.  Other documentation licenses include the FreeBSD
Documentation License, Apple's Common Documentation License, and the Open Publication
License, however it must be stated that some are restrictive and not compatible with the GNU
The GNU Free Documentation License states its purpose clearly in the preamble, which is
quoted below:
The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other written 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.  Secondarily, this
License preserves for the author and the publisher a way to get credit for their work, while
not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.
This license is a kind of "copyleft", which means that derivative works of the document must
themselves be free in the same sense.  It complements the GNU General Public License, which
is a copyleft license designed for free software.
We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free
software needs free documentation:  a free program should come with manuals providing the
same freedoms that the software does.  But this License is not limited to software manuals;
it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published
as a printed book.  We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is
instruction or reference."

Copyright vs. Copyleft
Copyrights exist in order to protect authors of documentation or software from unauthorized
copying or selling of their work.  A copyright infers that only with the author or
may such activities take place. 
A Copyleft, on the other hand, provides a method for software or documentation to be
modified, and distributed back to the community, provided it remains Libre.
In the case of Libre Documentation, an author can place his or her copyright into the
document, and use distribution terms, such as those in the GNU Free Documentation License,
which gives everyone the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the code, but only if those
distribution terms remain unchanged.  This ensures that the source code and the freedoms are
legally inseparable.  This is known as "copyleft".
If a program or document was uncopyrighted and in the public domain, changes could be made
and the program or document could be re-distributed as a proprietary product.  The copyleft
ensures that not only is the original source free, but that all modifications must be made
free, and permission is granted for all who follow in modifying that same program or
document, provided they abide by these terms.
Applying a free software or free documentation license to an application or document
qualifies the product as Libre, and protects the open source community at large from it
becoming commercial or proprietary.
1.  The GWM Objectives,
2.  The GNU Free Documentation License,
3.  Categories of Free and Non-Free Software,
4.  Various Licenses and Comments About Them,
(of course I will FDL this when I'm done!)

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