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License for textbooks - GNU or CC?

Anonymous Coward writes | more than 4 years ago

Books 2

An anonymous reader writes "I'm a college professor who is putting together an open-source textbook. I'm trying to decide between using the GNU Free Documentation License or the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. I don't really understand the difference
between these, though it seems with the Free Documentation License I need to include a copy of the license in my text.

Which do you advise using?"

cancel ×


Creative Commons (2, Informative)

guitarMan666 (1388859) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384986)

The Free Documentation Licence is really designed for use in software documentation. For textbooks, essays and the like, a Creative Commons license is far more in line with your needs as an author. It also seems to be more well known to the public and so would garner points that way because people can easily tell the terms of the license because they are contained, in simple language, within the name of the license by using words like Attribution, ShareAlike and NonCommercial which make it immediately clear. Also, most people have at least heard of Creative Commons and so it would be more familiar without reading up on it.

GFDL is a good choice (2, Informative)

rbeezer (1351811) | more than 4 years ago | (#30394366)

The GFDL gives users of your book the freedom to make copies forever, and to make modifications for their own use. But if they modify the book *and* distribute the modified version, they have to make the modifications available under the same license. Thus the term "viral." This gives your users (other faculty?) the assurance that they can continue to improve your book, should you decide (or become unable) to continue working on it. By contrast a CC license can come in several forms. For example, a NonCommercial clause limits what people can do with your book and makes it not truly free. This seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes interesting things happen if you allow commercial applications. A CC-BY-SA license is close to the GFDL, but the statement of the GFDL is much more explicit and comprehensive. Learn more at []
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