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[ #279148] address@hidden: Re: [Savannah-hackers-public] News: Li

From: Brett Smith via RT
Subject: [ #279148] address@hidden: Re: [Savannah-hackers-public] News: Licenses clarification]
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 22:52:17 -0500

> [beuc - Wed Mar 15 19:56:32 2006]:
> Follow the requirement to use (at least) the GFDL for Savannah-hosted
> manuals, we have a question about the use of such manual in an
> integrated help system.
> In this forwarded message I argue that if, at runtime, a GNU GPL'd
> application open the file containing the GFDL'd documentation and
> display the relevant contextual bits to the user, then there is no
> copyright issue.

Dear Sylvain,

Whether or not this is true depends on the exact details of how the
documentation is integrated with the code.

If the help system does little more than display the documentation it's
given, and it would be capable of displaying any other documentation in
the same format, then the two can be considered independent works, and
released side-by-side under any GNU licenses.

On the other hand, if the program relies on specific details in that
particular help file, then the program would be a derivative work of the
documentation, and there'd be a licensing problem. This could be the
case, for example, if the program provides context-sensitive help by
bringing up specific sections of the manual. Since this wouldn't work
with different documentation in the same format -- it relies on a
document that has the sections referenced by the program -- it's a
derivative work.

I hope this helps clarify the situation. If you're still not sure where
your specific program falls on this spectrum, and you can send us
specific details about how it works, I'd be happy to address your
concerns. Please note that this is not legal advice; if you need legal
advice, please contact a lawyer.

Best regards,

Brett Smith
Free Software Foundation Licensing Team

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