Restrictive license of translations and documentation

gd shared this question 10 years ago
Answered

The license of GeoGebra translations and documentations, at least in 3.0 RCs is Creative Commons Attribution+Noncommercial+NoDerivs. While the software itself is free software under GPL, this means that its strings and documentation are non-free (as with a free software or documentation anyone who receives the work should be allowed to distribute modifications of the work and to use or distribute itself or modified versions commercially). This makes a general GeoGebra distribution non-free.


Do you really intend not to allow modifications and commercial distribution?


Not allowing modifications of the documentation and language files means that if someone, under the terms of the GPL, creates a modified version of GeoGebra, they are not allowed to adopt the documentation to the modified work; what is more, they are not allowed to change strings.


I am not sure if the application and the language files form a combined work; I would say yes, but IANAL. GPL requires that if the covered work is combined with other works to form a larger program, the entire work must be licensed under GPL, so the other works must be under a GPL-compatible license, which does not pose further restrictions. If the language files and the application are considered to form such an entire work, nobody (except the copyright holders) has the right to redistribute the entire work as the licenses of the two parts are incompatible.


For releasing free documentation, especially of a GPLed software, the most suitable license is the GNU Free Documentation License, similar to the GNU GPL. Creative Commons Attribution and Attribution+ShareAlike are also free licenses but are incompatible with the GPL. I think language files are generally not licensed separately from the application.

Comments (10)

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The entire open-source GeoGebra is GNU GPL, can be modified, compiled and solded if you wish to. However the language files are not part of the product, not even needed to run the product. They are designed as plug-in which can have whatever license the auther wants: http://www.gnu.org/licenses...


Besides if you modify the core GeoGebra you can write the documentation of that modified version and you can translate the strings you created...


And finally reative Commons Attribution+Noncommercial+NoDerivs does not mean that GeoGebra cannot be used commercially. It just means that it cannot be done without the approval of GeoGebra Inc., the non-profit organisation who holds the rights on the software.


Best Regards,

Yves

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Thank you for your explanation, Yves.


The main reason for this licensing of GeoGebra (GNU GPL and Creative Commons non-commercial language and docu) is that we want to have some control about what commercial companies (i.e. text book publishers, online schools) do with GeoGebra. The software GeoGebra is and will remain free of charge for non-commercial use, i.e. for teachers and students. This is the really important message that needs to come across here. With our license, the non-profit organization GeoGebra Inc. can receive moderate license fees from commercial users (e.g. publishers) which will help us to keep the project going for hopefully many more years.


All the best,

Markus

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Thank you for your explanation. Now I understand that the license does not make redistribution impossible and that the restrictive license is to get funding from commercial users. I still believe that this makes the entire GeoGebra non-free (and it is hardly usable without strings, is it?) - whether this is a problem can be disputed.

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Hi!


So, considering that it is hard to use the software without using the plug-in that makes use of language files, it would be ok if someone develop a new plug-in and release it under GNU GPL? Then the new version would be completely "free" (as in Definition of Free Cultural Works).


About non free licenses, I recommend also reading: The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons -NC License.


Helder

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As far as I know what are non-free are the language files (translations) themselfs. So what would be needed to make them free is retranslating them. This is an interesting question in itself since a new translation of the UI would be likely to be almost the same of the non-free translations.

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As far as I know what are non-free are the language files (translations) themselfs. So what would be needed to make them free is retranslating them. This is an interesting question in itself since a new translation of the UI would be likely to be almost the same of the non-free translations.

I agree! ;-)

The question is indeed interesting!


And, personally, I think there could be some people that would try to do a "completely free" version of GeoGebra if this were more clear: how could somebody identify if some new language file created is a derivative work of the non free one (that is under CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0) or is a completely new one, and then could be licensed as the creator wants (for example as CC-BY-SA 3.0, that is a free license)? (considering that two language files will not be much different from each other...)


This is somewhat less difficult in the case of the documentation files, but it is still a problem to start a new documentation from scratch.


Helder

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how could somebody identify if some new language file created is a derivative work of the non free one (that is under CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)


ND in CC-BY-NC-ND means No derivative works so derivative works of the non-free translations/docs cannot be legally distributed at all. Btw this also creates the problem that if you (legally, under GPL) modify the software, you cannot legally adjust the documentation to the modified software - only by supplying a separate documentation for the modified version.

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Dear Helder,


if you would like to help us extend the documentation of GeoGebra that is very welcome of course. I'm sure we'll find a way to handle the license questions. As said before: the reason for our NC license is really to give us some control about what publishers do with GeoGebra. We are always open for collaboration and try to support all language translations of GeoGebra.


Also, we want to keep GeoGebra together as one project with one official version that includes all language versions from anyone who wants to help with translations. This is very important for users in the educational world as it makes life just so much easier than having to deal with many different incompatible versions of GeoGebra.


Please send me pm's to discuss such details.


All the best,

Markus

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Dear all,


as a follow up: please don't worry too much about licenses. We can change licenses or allow certain people to do certain things if it helps us to work better together, that's not going to be a problem.


The real question is: how can we organize the documentation of GeoGebra (e.g. the GeoGebra manual) in a way that allows us to ... ?

a) make updates to the documentation when new GeoGebra versions come out

b) notify all translators in detail about all changes made, so that they can update their translations accordingly

c) create web and print (pdf) versions of the documentation


We currently do this in a centralized way. We (a) update the manual, and (b) document all changes well so that translators can update their translations and be sure that they have all the latest features documented. We use Word/Open Office Writer for the manual because it is easy to use for our translators and has the "track changes" feature. From these files we can automatically create an HTML and a pdf version.


We are currently working on setting up our new web server, and I would be very happy to allow the community to help us extend the GeoGebra manual with examples. We simply don't know yet how to do that in order to keep (a), (b), and (c) above. If you can help us how to organize this, we'd be glad to hear your ideas.


Florian Sonner is currently collecting such ideas on how we could set up community-driven manuals/documentation for GeoGebra. We'd love to install the right infrastructure on our webserver. Please send Florian your ideas.


Thanks and all the best,

Markus

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Quick update: we have just changed our language file and documentation license to Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike. This makes us compatible with free textbook and Wikipedia projects.


All the best,

Markus

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