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Re: Question about GNU Free Document License

From: nealweston
Subject: Re: Question about GNU Free Document License
Date: 21 Jan 2006 08:29:23 -0800
User-agent: G2/0.2

First I would like to thank you all for taking the time to respond to
my email message. I really appreciate the feedback  I will try, as best
I can to address the questions you have asked:


You asked if he had given a reason for his request that I remove his
book from my web site. The only reason he gave was that only the
printed version of the book was covered by the GFDL and that the
content on his web site is not. My assumption is that his motives are
primarily financial. In addition to posting of the HTML version of his
book on his web site he also has links to Amazon where the printed book
can be purchased.

If I do decide to decline his request to remove the book I do intend to
offer to also include links to the printed version of his book so that
he is not deprived of revenue from the print version (and may actually
generate more revenue). My web site is non-profit (we do run Google Ads
which defray about 20% of the hosting costs but this is very much a
hobby for a small group of volunteers and not a business) and I have no
desire to take away book sales from the author of this book.

You also asked if the HTML itself is the source code for the book, or
if it was written in some other language (Texinfo, perhaps) and then
converted to HTML.

This is a very good question and is something that had not occurred to
me before you asked. Having looked at the HTML the version of the book
on his web site it is very clear that HTML that has been generated from
Texinfo. The HTML on his site, however, is the only electronic, i.e
transparent, version of the book he has made available. He has not made
the Texinfo source available. The only version of the book that could
be considered as "transparent" as described by the GFDL appears to
be the HTML on his web page - which is what I am essentially using
and allowing others to similarly read and copy from my web site.

You also asked why I don't simply agree to his request and I may
indeed agree to do so. That said I am a huge advocate of open source in
general and the various GNU licenses that have made so much useful
software and information available to everyone. As such it goes
somewhat against my principles that the author in question released the
book under the GFDL but seems not to want others to distribute that
useful content for the benefit of a wider audience in the very ways the
GFDL was designed to allow. Still emotionally conficted on this point
at the moment :).


You asked what license has been used by the author. The HTML version of
the book on his web site contains the GNU Free Document License Version
1.2 dated November 2002 in its entirety as an addendum.


You asked if I would post the URLs in question either publicly or
privately. I would prefer not to post the links publicly out of respect
to the author of the book. I do not have his permission to reveal his
identity and also don't want to be seen to be promoting my web site
in a public forum. I will, however, email you separately with both his
URL and my URL.

Thanks again for all taking the time to consider my email and provide
thoughtful responses to my questions.



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