Rhea Myers

FLOSS Manuals Shouldn't Publish NC Books

(Update 13/3/09 - Adam from FLOSS Manuals points out in the comments that the licence page already says that the book will be re-licenced under the GPL. D’oh! Sorry FLOSS Manuals! But I still don’t think you guys should be publishing the book NC in the mean time…)

FLOSS Manuals is an excellent project providing manuals for Free Software. I gave the project a good review here, and I’ve written scripts to convert its HTML to ebooks.

FLOSS Manuals have been using the GPL for their manuals, which is a good licence if a strange choice for software manuals, but their latest manual, a digital art handbook, is licenced under Creative Commons’s Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike licence (NC-SA).

NC-SA is not a free licence by any definition. The FSF, OSI, Debian and Freedom Defined all reject it. It has no place in a project calling itself “FLOSS”.

It would be better for FLOSS Manuals not to publish this book than to break their principles in this way, particularly given the project’s robust rejection of the FDL for lesser reasons.

There are already other NC-SA Digital Art Textbooks available. What would be exciting, if it’s going to be CC licenced, would be a BY-SA one.

FLOSS Manuals should switch to BY-SA generally if the FDL is not acceptible. I’m not suggesting dual-licencing, which would just compound the problem, I’m suggesting re-licensing the project as a whole as BY-SA. This would answer FLOSS Manuals’ concerns about the FDL much better than using the NC.

But in the mean time, FLOSS Manuals should either relicence or pull the digital art manual. Because NC isn’t FLOSS.