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The GFDL, notable for once being the lifeblood of Wikipedia, is designed by the Free Software Foundation; it is the copyleft license of choice for many wikis and manuals. However, Debian doesn't deem it free enough.

What does the GFDL mean?

GFDL stands for the GNU Free Documentation License. This license allows one to edit, redistribute and generally do whatever the fuck you want to do with anything that is licensed under the GFDL, as well as any derivative works of the original document. This basically gives you unlimited freedom. Jews hate it.

Drama and lulz

Considerable drama can be generated on websites, such as the YTMND Wiki, if one makes a sizable number of edits and then revokes the license on them, thus forbidding the website from distributing your work. Malber stuck it to Wikipedia (when the GFDL was still in use) thusly:

The GFDL, like the GPL, is not a contract; thus, the initial author of an article written under the GFDL is not bound by its terms. I can, therefore, revoke the license by giving notice to the licensee (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Foundation, etc.). Any language to the contrary in the GFDL is unenforceable. Therefore, until an intervening substantially-transformative edit occurs, all such submissions are subject to arbitrary revocation on mere notice to the publisher(s) by the original author, and upon revocation all publication must immediately cease.

Once a substantially-transformative edit occurs, copyright in the resulting work rests not with the original author but with the person doing the substantially-transformative edit, who is then obliged to relicense any further distribution under the terms of the license allowing the edit in the first place, and is prohibited from revoking that license by virtue of being the licensee on the original edit. Since such secondary licensees receive their licenses not from the original licensor, but from the licensee (whose rights have been terminated by the revocation), their licenses remain intact until they also receive actual notice of the revocation, and derivation licenses predicated on those licenses remain valid. It is probably possible for an original licensor to revoke these relicenses as well, but meeting the requirement for actual notice for termination is likely to be difficult.

All of this flows from the fact that a license that is not a contract cannot impose an obligation upon the licensor. It is also established law that a license cannot be made irrevocable without consideration, and there is no consideration received by the licensor for licenses granted under the GFDL (or GPL). There is simply no way to prohibit the original licensor (author) from revoking their grant of license, which is why you have to allow for author's prerogative to delete.

Therefore, I, M. Alber, hereby rescind and revoke all Creative Commons and GFDL licenses on all works submitted to Wikimedia projects. I invoke my rights under copyright with regards to copying, modifying, and distribution and specificaly prohibit Wikimedia et al. from continuing to distribute any and all works created by me. Any administrator on any Wikimedia project interfering with my right to alter, amend, and revoke licenses on my works that have not been subject to a substantially-transformative edit is causing the Wikimedia Foundation to be a party to copyright infringement. Any alteration to the above revocation text is an illegal act of fraudulently altering a license notice.



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