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Re: Question about GNU Free Document License

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Question about GNU Free Document License
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2006 19:53:56 +0000
User-agent: tin/1.4.5-20010409 ("One More Nightmare") (UNIX) (Linux/2.0.35 (i686))

nealweston <> wrote on 20 Jan 2006 10:46:58 -0800:
> Hi All,

> I have a question on the GNU Free Document License. I apologize if I
> have come to the wrong forum to discuss this (if so perhaps someone
> would be kind enough to direct me to the correct group should such a
> group exist).

> My problem is as follows:

> I run a web site that contains a small collection of online books and
> documents that have been made available by various authors under the
> GNU Free Document License.

> In one instance I have taken the HTML version of a book that is clearly
> released under the GNU Free Document License (the book contains version
> 1.2 of the GFDL) from the author's web site and published it on my web
> site.

Is the HTML itself the source code for the book, or was it written in
some other language (Texinfo, perhaps) and then converted to HTML?

> The author of this book recently contacted me and requested that I
> remove his book from my web site. He essentially claims that while the
> printed version of the book is released under the GNU Free Document
> License the contents of his web site (including the HTML version of the
> book) is not.

Why don't you accede to the (presumably polite) request of the author?
Why doesn't he want his book on your site?

As far as the license goes, you are at perfect liberty to use the
document - it is, after all, a free document.  However, you must be ready
to supply the source code for it.

> As far as I am aware to conform with the GFDL he must make a
> "transparent" version of his book available for others to use or
> redistribute. In effect the HTML version of his book on his web site
> constitutes a "transparent" copy and by taking that content and putting
> it on my web site I am completely within the rights of the GFDL. I have
> published only the content of the book and no other content from this
> person's web site. I have also acknowledged this author's copyright and
> included the GFDL in the content of the book as required. I have also
> placed no restrictions on others downloading the book from my web site
> if they choose to do so.

> I'd be interested to hear if others share my interpretation of this
> license or if there is some clause that I have missed. Does this author
> have the right to ask me to remove his book from my web site or am I
> within my rights to decline given that the book is covered by the GFDL?

You are within your rights.

> Your opinions would be much appreciated - and once again my sincere
> apologies if I have raised this issue in the wrong group.

Again, why doesn't the author want his book on your website?

> Regards

> Neal

Alan Mackenzie (Munich, Germany)
Email: aacm@muuc.dee; to decode, wherever there is a repeated letter
(like "aa"), remove half of them (leaving, say, "a").

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