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Re: Classpath API documentation licensing is unclear

From: Mark Wielaard
Subject: Re: Classpath API documentation licensing is unclear
Date: Sat, 07 May 2005 16:47:08 +0200

Hi Kalle,

On Sat, 2005-05-07 at 12:20 +0300, Kalle Olavi Niemitalo wrote:
> I built Classpath --with-gjdoc from CVS and want to put the API
> HTML documentation on a local HTTP server so that it loads
> faster.  This server can be accessed by several persons and might
> be visible from the Internet in the future.  Now I need to know
> what requirements I must satisfy in order to be legally allowed
> to distribute the files in this manner.

I will forward my reply to FSF-legal so they can give definitive

> I have found the following evidence:
> * classpath/doc/api/html/java/lang/Object.html and other
>   class-specific HTML files end with a copyright+license notice
>   that states that "This file is part of GNU Classpath" which can
>   be used under GNU GPL v2 or later plus extra permissions for
>   linking.  However, it is not clear whether the notice is just
>   part of the documentation of the class or actually applies to
>   the documentation itself.

The notice applies to the generated documentation files. They are just
under the same distribution terms as the original source files. The
copyright+license notice is taken by gcjdoc from the .java source file
and put in the .html verbatim.

>   If the HTML file is indeed part of
>   "this library", then the wording of the notice would seem to
>   claim that linking to it is "making a combined work" that must
>   be covered by the GPL because the process does not "produce an
>   executable".

That is an unfortunate formulation of the exception statement we use.
The FSF has asked for feedback if any part of it was not clear. It seems
this is precisely the feedback the want. We have a wiki to collect all
these clarification requests
But I make sure this particular issue is seen by FSF legal immediately.

> *
>   says that Classpath documentation used to be licensed under the
>   GNU GPL or an unnamed copyleft license, and that the GNU FDL was
>   created; but it does not say how the documentation is licensed
>   now.

That notice is about the general GNU policy around documentation. For
GNU Classpath we hadn't adopted the GFDL yet because of the next two
messages you reference.

> * In
>   and,
>   Mark Wielaard stated that the documentation is derived from
>   the source code of Classpath and the GNU GPL thus applies, but
>   the FSF would like to license the documentation under the GNU FDL.

That long ago. Sorry, it must have dropped off the licensing committee
agenda at that time. I will ask them to evaluate this again. At the time
the response was as follows:

        I got a response from RMS and he would like to have the copyright notice
        copied from the original java source file. That should be easy for the
        GNU Classpath files since they always have the copyright notice at the
        top as their second line.

        It seems that it would be most desirable to add the complete boilerplate
        we normally use also in the generated files.
        The FSF would also very much like to publish the generated
        documentation under the FDL but they are looking at what is the
        best way to do this.

As you can see, we did the first part. The issue with distributing the
documentation under the GFDL was that it was unclear how organize the
copy/pasting of code and documentation between GPLed and GFDLed worked.
I'll ask if there is a solution for that and if it still makes sense to
(also) publish the generated documentation under the GFDL now that we
already distribute them as if they were source code.

> Thus, I presume the API documentation is indeed licensed under
> the same GPL+exception as the source code, and any relicensing to
> FDL does not affect my copy.  To put the documents on my server,
> I'll have to accompany them with the source code from which they
> were generated (the exact version from CVS; I can put that in a
> .tar.bz2) and the text of the GNU GPL v2 (which is already part
> of the source tree).

Note that the way they are generated all documentation files have a link
to the source code (in html). That might (technically) be enough to
comply with the GPL+exception statement. Although for the end user it is
much more convenient to have a quick tar.gz link to get all at once. So
I would encourage you to provide that.

> I would like you to make the following changes to clarify the
> situation:
> * Describe the licensing of the whole API HTML tree in one place,
>   such as about.html.  (That's where I looked.)  If all the HTML
>   files are licensed the same way, put the license here;
>   otherwise state which parts are licensed differently, or even
>   that licensing may vary from file to file (which would
>   discourage distributing the documentation).

The terms are almost all the same, except for the packages under the
external directory (org.w3c and org.xml) which are distributed under
their original upstream distribution terms. It is a good idea to mention
that eexplicitly in the about.html. Thanks.

> * Make
>   point to that place for the licensing of API documentation.

Yes, good idea.

> * Change the "This file is part of GNU Classpath" text to make
>   clear whether it also applies to documentation files and
>   whether the linking clause applies to HTML links.

I'll let FSF legal look at the text again to see if it can be more
clear. I think it is clear, but since you had to ask I guess it can be
more explicit.



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