Using the GNU FDL

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If you know someone who is writing a manual about free software, and
looking towards commercial publication, you have a chance to help the
Free Software Movement a great deal with a small amount of work: by
suggesting the idea of publishing the manual under the GNU Free
Documentation License.

Until recently, commercial book publication almost always implied a
non-free book.  But just as free commercial software has been
increasing for a while, now free commercial documentation is starting
to take off as well.  Some of the major commercial publishers of
documentation about the GNU/Linux system, and about free software in
general, are now willing to publish books under the GNU FDL, and pay
the authors in the usual way--IF the authors are firm about this.

But publishers are likely to first propose an ordinary proprietary
book.  And if the authors agree, that's what it will be.  So it is
essential for authors to take the lead; to say, "We want to use the
GNU FDL for this book".  So when your friend mentions writing a
manual, you can influence the course of events simply by pointing out
this possibility.

If a publisher rejects the request at first, the GNU Project may be
able to help the authors prevail.  They can contact us at

There are other legitimate free documentation licenses, but sometimes
using them requires care.  For example, one license is equipped with
two optional clauses that can be enabled; the license is free if
neither optional clause is used, but enabling either of them makes the
book non-free.  (See
Authors that want to publish free documentation, but using a license
other than the GNU FDL, can contact us so we can check that the
license really qualifies for free documentation.

When a commercial manual is free and relates to the GNU system, the
GNU Project can recommend it to the public.  So if the authors or
publisher set up a web page to describe it and/or sell copies, we can
make a link to that page from, provided the page meets our
usual criteria (for instance, it should not link to other pages about
non-free software or documentation, and should not be obnoxious about
trying to persuade people to buy).  Please inform
about such pages.

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