Richard Stallman writes:
I am working on a new license to use for GNU documentation.
Here is a draft of it. Please don’t use it yet; I have not finished
checking it. But please do give me constructive comments for
improving the details of it. I can make use of them to improve
GNU Free Documentation License Version 0.9
The GNU Free Documentation License is a form of copyleft
designed for books, such as reference manuals and tutorials. We
designed it in order to use it for documentation about free
software, but it can be used regardless of the subject matter. It
can also apply to textual works that are not released in book form.
It gives users the right to copy, redistribute and modify the work,
just as users have the right to copy, redistribute and modify free
This License applies to any manual or other work which contains
a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it can be
distributed under the terms of this License. The “Manual”, below,
refers to any such manual or work. Any member of the public is a
licensee, and is addressed as “you”.
A “Modified Version” of the Manual means any work containing the
Manual or a portion of it, either copied verbatim or with
modifications and/or translated into another language.
The “Invariant Sections” are certain appendices or front-matter
sections of the Manual, which deal exclusively with nontechnical
matters (such as the political views, histories or legal positions
of the authors), and whose titles are listed as Invariant Sections
in the notice saying that the Manual is released under this
The “Front-Cover Texts” are certain short passages of text are
listed as Front-Cover Texts or Back-Cover Texts in the notice
saying that the Manual is released under this license.
A “Transparent” copy of the Manual means a machine-readable
copy, represented in a format whose specification is available to
the general public, in which the text may be viewed
straightforwardly with ordinary text editors, and which is suitable
for input to text formatters or for automatic translation to a
variety of formats suitable for input to text formatters. Examples
of suitable formats for transparent copies include Texinfo input
format, LaTeX input format, SGML, and standard-conforming HTML. A
copy that is not “Transparent” is called “Opaque”.
The “Title Page” means, for a printed book, the title page; for
works in other formats where there is no title page as such, it
means the text near the most prominent mention of the work’s title,
preceding the beginning of the body of the text.
2. VERBATIM COPYING
You may copy and distribute the Manual, in any medium, either
commercially or noncommercially, provided that this license is
reproduced in all copies, and you add no other conditions
whatsoever to those of this license. You may accept compensation in
exchange for copies, but you may not technically obstruct the
reading or further copying of the copies you make or
You may also lend copies, under the same conditions stated
above, and you may publicly display copies.
It is requested, but not required, that you give the authors of
the Manual thirty days (or more) advance notice of your plans to
redistribute any large number of copies, to give them a chance to
provide you with an updated version of the Manual.
3. COPYING IN QUANTITY
If you publish or distribute printed copies of the Manual
numbering more than 100, and the Manual’s license notice requires
Cover Texts, you must enclose the copies in covers that carry,
clearly and legibly, all these Cover Texts: Front-Cover Texts on
the front cover, and Back-Cover Texts on the back cover. If the
required texts for either cover are too voluminous to fit legibly,
put the first ones listed (as many as fit reasonably) on the actual
cover, and continue the rest onto adjacent pages.
If you publish or distribute Opaque copies of the Manual
numbering more than 100, you must state in or with each copy a
publicly accessible computer network location containing a
Transparent copy of the Manual, no more and no less, which the
general network-using public has access to download at no charge.
You must take reasonably prudent steps, when you begin distribution
of Opaque copies in quantity, to ensure that this Transparent copy
will remain thus accessible at the stated location until at least
six months after you last distribute an Opaque copy.
You may copy and distribute a Modified Version of the Manual
under the conditions of section 2 and 3 above, provided that you
release the Modified Version under precisely this license, with the
Modified Version filling the role of the Manual, thus licensing use
of the Modified Version to whoever possesses a copy of it. In
addition, you must do these things in the Modified Version:
A. Mention the Manual’s title on the Title Page. B. Add
something to the title, or a subtitle, stating that the version has
been modified, and distinguishing it from the Manual you started
with. C. Mention on the Title Page at least one name of a person or
entity responsible for authorship of the modifications in the
Modified Version and/or publication of the Modified version, and
describe that entity’s relationship to the Modified Version. D.
Retain on the Title Page or its continuation the authors’ and
publishers’ names listed on the Manual’s Title Page. E. Preserve
all the copyright notices of the Manual. F. Add an appropriate
copyright notice for your own work. G. Include after them a notice
stating giving the public permission to use the Modified Version
under the terms of this license, in the form shown in the Addendum
below. H. Preserve in that notice the full list of Invariant
Sections, and the full list of required Cover Texts, given in
Manual’s notice. I. Include an unaltered copy of this license. J.
Preserve the network location, if any, given in the Manual for
public access to a Transparent copy of the Manual, and likewise
those network locations given in the Manual for any earlier
versions it was based on. K. If the Manual has an Acknowledgements
and/or Dedications section, preserve therein all the substance of
each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications stated
therein. L. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Manual,
unaltered in text and in their titles.
If the Modified Version includes new front-matter sections (or
appendices) which deal exclusively with nontechnical matters, and
contain no material copied from the Manual, you may at your option
add the section titles of any or all of these sections to the list
of Invariant Sections in the Modified Version.
You may add up to five words of Front-Cover Text and up to 25
words of Back-Cover Text to the end of the list of Cover Texts in
the Modified Version.
The author(s) and publisher(s) of the Manual do not by this
license give permission to use their names for publicity or to
assert or imply endorsement of any Modified Version.
5. COMBINING MANUALS
You may combine the Manual with other manuals released under
this license, under the terms of section 3 above as for modified
versions, provided that you include all of the Invariant Sections
of all of the original manuals, unmodified, in the combination, and
list them all as Invariant Sections in your combined work.
The combined work need only contain one copy of this license,
and multiple identical Invariant Sections may be replaced with a
single copy. If there are multiple Invariant Sections with the same
name but different contents, make the title of each such section
unique by adding at the end, in parentheses, the name of the
original author or publisher of that section if known, otherwise
the name of an author or publisher of the manual that section came
from; and make the same adjustment in the list of Invariant
Sections in the license of the combined work.
6. AGGREGATION WITH INDEPENDENT WORKS
A compilation of the Manual or its derivatives with other
separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a
storage or distribution medium, does not as a whole count as a
Modified Version of the Manual, provided no compilation copyright
is claimed for the compilation. In such a case, this license does
not apply to the other self-contained works thus compiled with the
Manual, if they are not derivative works of the Manual.
Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you can
distribute translations of the manual under the terms of section 4.
This implies that translation of the Invariant Sections requires
special permission from their copyright holders. You may include a
translation of this license provided that you also include this
license in the original English version. In case of a disagreement
between the translation and the English version of this license,
the English version will prevail.
You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Manual
except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt
otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Manual is
void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this
License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from
you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so
long as such parties remain in full compliance.
9. ADDENDUM: How to use this license for your manuals
To use this license in a manual you have written, put the
following notice on the page after the title page:
Copyright (c) YEAR YOUR NAME. Permission is granted to
copy, distribute and/or modify this manual under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.0 or any later version
published by the Free Software Foundation, with the Invariant
Sections being LIST THEIR TITLES, Front-Cover Texts being LIST, and
Back-Cover Texts being LIST. A copy of the license is included in
the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”
If you have no Invariant Sections, write “with no Invariant
Sections” instead. If you have no Front-Cover Texts, write “no
Front-Cover Texts” instead of “Front-Cover Texts being LIST”.
Likewise for Back-Cover Texts.