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Why publishers should use the GNU FDL

by Richard Stallman

Can technical writers earn money by writing free documentation for free software? We seriously hope so, and that is the reason for the GNU Free Documentation License.

The GFDL is meant as a way to enlist commercial publishers in funding free documentation without surrendering any vital liberty. The “cover text” feature, and certain other aspects of the license that deal with covers, title page, history, and endorsements, are included to make the license appealing to commercial publishers for books whose authors are paid. To improve the appeal, I consulted specifically with staff of publishing companies, as well as lawyers, free documentation writers, and the community at large, in writing the GFDL.

At least two commercial publishers of software manuals have told me they are interested in using this license. The future is never a sure thing, but the GFDL looks like it has a good chance to succeed in shaping a social system where commercial publishers pay people to write commercial free manuals for free software.


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