Subject: Re: Open Content woes
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 19:16:50 +0200

On Fri, Sep 24, 1999 at 08:50:36AM -0700, Mark Stone wrote:
> O'Reilly is about to publish "Learning Debian GNU/Linux", our attempt to
> bring the wonders of the Debian distribution to newbies. In the spirit of
> the Debian project, we want to make this an Open Source book, and make the
> documentation freely available for use by the Debian project and Open
> Source community at large.
> My first choice was to use the Open Content License, which is essentially
> the GPL for documentation. I have been unable to do so, and the reasons
> why are instructive.
> Like many other technical books, "Learning Debian" contains a fair number
> of screenshots. Some of these screenshots demonstrate applications running
> under Linux (Corel WordPerfect, Netscape Communicator, etc.). It is
> standard practice in publishing that these images are the property of the
> company that makes the product, and can be used in books only with the
> permission of the company. It is also standard practice to routinely give
> this permission, and to do so freely. Why not? It's cheap publicity for
> the company, and doesn't really harm their intellectual investment in any
> way.

> But here's where we run afoul of the viral clause in the Open Content
> License. Neither O'Reilly nor the author holds the rights to the images,
> and so we can't put the images under the OCL. I briefly thought of putting
> just the text of the manuscript under the OCL, but that won't work either.
> The work as a whole -- text plus images -- is a derived work of the text,
> and hence would also have to be licensed under the OCL.

Communicator being MPL, you should be able to use screenshots under OCL,
provided no Netscape Logo appears on the screen.

But have you tried to ask the owners of these products whether they
would agree for a given set of screenshots to be OCL ?

Or is there another issue you forgot to mention ?

> The book instead will be licensed under the Open Publication License
> (essentially the BSD License for documentation). This is fine by me. To me
> the GPL and its descandants are one choice among many, and not always the
> right choice. But it's an interesting limitation of the OCL that I don't
> even have the opportunity to apply it in this case.
> Mark
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> |   Mark Stone, Open Source Editor  O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.    |
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