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[Forge-main] Licensing

From: Ricardo Gladwell
Subject: [Forge-main] Licensing
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 20:43:25 +0000

Hi All,

To decide, finally, about the licensing issues I've compiled a series of
options for licensing free content, along with their pros and cons.
Please let me know what you all think and what you're favourite option
would be.

1. Stick with FDL

This is the simplest option. The FDL is designed for written content and
has a very open and flexible definition of what makes a freely
modifiable copy (i.e. Transparent Copy), and important pre-requisite of
a free content license. It also means we have access to the vast wealth
of FDL'd content out their on the Internet and we can re-use in our own

Of course, this makes our material incompatible with the GPL. Most
importantly, the FDL includes closed Invariant sections, elements of
totally non-free content which prevents modification and re-use of
content, breaking our own freedoms!

2. License under the GPL

This gives us the benefits of the copyleft without the problem of the
FDL invariant sections. What is more, it means our material can
automatically be used in GPL software.

However, the definition of 'modifiable content' is somewhat more
ambiguous for document content and could mean that it is OK to publish
in proprietary formats such as MS Word! It also cuts us off from the
world of FDL'd content, a rich source of written material.

3. Dual-License under the FDL and GPL

This option gives us the maximum compatibility with the FDL and the GPL.
However, in order to republish GPL'd material we need to ask permission
from the author to republish under the FDL and vice-versa... it makes it
difficult for us to re-use others material. Also, this does not remove
the problem of invariant sections or that people can re-publish our work
in proprietary formats.

4. Modify the GPL or FDL

We could add additional conditions to the FDL and/or the GPL to prevent
downstream users from using invariant sections, and to ensure that
'modifiable version' means a Transparent copy. However, this really does
cut us off... by adding additional restrictions we cannot use anyone
else's 'vanilla' GPL/FDL licenses unless we get permission. Also, I'm
unsure of the legal problems of adding additional restrictions.

My favourite is option 2: publish under the GPL. This is the simplest
and most compatible method. Despite the fact that it could mean that our
material could be republished in MS Word format, or some other
proprietary format, the wide spread availability of free-as-in-speech
and free-as-in-beer word processors that can read proprietary formats
happily negates this problem, at least until the FSF wises up to the
fact that the GPL needs to be updated for documents. It also means that
we get cut off from the world of FDL content. However, I think this
problem is limited, particularly if we can convince others to convert
their FDL'd works to GPL.

Ricardo Gladwell
President, Free Roleplaying Community

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