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Debian Documentation Policy (DEPRECATED and OLD DRAFT)
Chapter 2 - Common policy for documentation


2.1 Responsible party

Documents must be maintained by at least one Author. If the author is unavailable and nobody steps up to keep maintaining its manuals they might be considered Orphaned and treated as such (could be removed from publishing if its contents get too much out-of-date). Also, optionally there might be many Translators.

Interested translators are encouraged to contact first the author of a document and then, if it exists, the localization team for the language the translator wants to translate too. This helps authors keep track of who is translating the document (in case somebody else volunteers) and also prevents for duplicate effort (maybe somebody in the localization team is currently translating it and has not contacted the main author).


2.2 Licensing documents

All documentation of the Debian Documentation Project (DDP) must be released under a free license (free to use, modify and distribute). [1] for the Debian project to use. This is true not only for documentation provided by the DDP authors themselves but for documentation provided in the Debian operating system by packages (including FAQs, manpages, help pages, etc.).

The recommended license for any (new) document in Debian is the GNU General Public License [2] This is a copyleft license for documentation. More often than not, documentation is directly dependant to software used by Debian and thus has to be modified under the same conditions. This applies to technical documentation that is related to software. It might not fully apply to other kind of documents, but since documentation licenses are at still at their infancy (most are under heavy discussion) the GPL is preferred since documentation which uses it is clearly free in the DFSG sense.

Authors might wish to add the optional addition of explanatory text (text which is not part of the license) explaining that the author believes the preferred form for making modifications (i.e., source) to be an electronic version in the original format. This helps disambiguate the license while at the same time preserving it and making the document copyleft.

Note however that some other documentation licenses are acceptable too. The following licenses have been deemed as acceptable for documentation in Debian:

There is not yet a full consensus for the following licenses and document authors are recommended not to use them:

The following licenses are not recommended since the current consensus is that they are not DFSG-free:

It has been discussed many times (such as in november 2001 or october 2000 ) whether or not Debian should have guidelines for material which is not software. Debian currently does not have such guidelines and thus discussion of licensing as related to non-software content should be taken to the debian-legal mailing list, except for documentation specific licenses which should be discussed at debian-doc first (before going to debian-legal).

Some other relevant discussions might be (links updated as of december 2002, sorted in chronological order):


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Debian Documentation Policy (DEPRECATED and OLD DRAFT)

CVS, Sun, 06 Feb 2011 16:44:38 +0000

Debian Documentation Project debian-doc@lists.debian.org
Authors, Section A.1