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Re: Boilerplate License Revision Proposal

>A major defect of the existing policy is the case where a document is
>not maintained, but prohibits modification without permission of the
>author.  We wind up with obsolete documents that sometimes can't be
>updated.  I think (in theory) that we need to change our policy of
>what we will accept and from now on not accept documents that can't be
>modified if the author fails to maintain them to reflect new software
>(and new hardware in some cases).

This is not a defect as when the document becomes unmaintained and/or
obsolete it need to be "re-written" anyway. Therefore there would be no
copyright issues.

>I think (in theory) that a license should at least allow distributing
>a modification if the original author failed to adequately maintain
>the document.  Who is to judge what "adequately maintain" means?  

That would be tough you are correct. 

>I would argue that regarding benefits to the author, there is not a
>great deal to be gained in selling the exclusive right to publish if
>such work is first (weeks in advance of the work appearing in
>bookstores) put on the Internet at the 200 LDP mirror sites.

I don't believe this to be true, both O'reilly and OpenDocs have had great
success with it.

> The
>electronic media has a big advantage here since it appears first and
>is free in price.  I think that many people who buy such a work may
>not realize that they can get it free.  Another advantage of getting
>it via the Internet is that one learns how to get free updates and
>some documents are updated monthly (or so).  As time goes by, the
>share of the market by electronic media should grow and that of print
>media decline.  

That is what they keep saying, yet book stores keep having to make there
shelves taller. I am not being snide, I used work in a book store. I saw
the continued growth and I still see it today.

>Thus I don't see the possibility of making a living by
>writing such documents and selling them for printing (while
>distributing them free electronically in advance of printing).  The
>fact that one can get the same info for free tends to reduce the price
>of such books and also reduces author royalties.

This is the ultimate question. Currently about 40% of my revenue comes
from technical writing. All of which is free on the net. If I were to put
my mind to it, I could probably make it 70%.

It is possible, if one has the means to create a publishable quality
document. If it is truly publishable quality, the fact that it is on the
Net, will not effect it. It may actually help the sales of a printed book.

Personally I like electronic documentation, but I don't like it when I
have to wade through a 500 page PDF.

>Thus I don't think Poet's proposal would bring authors much financial
>benefit and it would go against our principles of free documentation.

I can refute this in several ways. One of the reasons some of the LDP
authors do not make money at their documentation is that it is not very


Look, I am not knocking the "technical quality" of the documents, but most
of the document grammar (including my own) is horrid. Our documents are in
no way close to publishable quality. 

If an author was able to produce or subsidize his/her living with the
documentation, it would see more attention. More attention typically would
equate to higher quality.

**CATCH 22**

Most publishers will not attempt to publish a document if the grammar is
so bad they would have to pay an editor for 6 months to fix it. O.k. 6
months would be a HUGE book but you get the point.

I still state;

We accept all Linux Documentation that is freely "Electronically
Distributable". If the copyright/license does not support the FSF
definition of "Free". The document will be tagged/classified.

The classification will state something simple like - "non-free"

Joshua Drake

>Anyway, authors are now free to grant exclusive printing rights and
>distribute the same free electronically.  They just don't put it on
>the LDP sites.  However, I think we should link to the sites where
>they do distribute their half-free docs.  Do any such sites exist?
>                    David Lawyer
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<COMPANY>CommandPrompt    - http://www.commandprompt.com      </COMPANY>
<PROJECT>OpenDocs, LLC.   - http://www.opendocs.org        </PROJECT>
<PROJECT>LinuxPorts       - http://www.linuxports.com     </PROJECT>
<WEBMASTER>LDP            - http://www.linuxdoc.org        </WEBMASTER>
Instead of asking why a piece of software is using "1970s technology," 
start asking why software is ignoring 30 years of accumulated wisdom. 

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