RE: GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)

Subject: RE: GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
From: Jan Cohen <najnehoc -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Bonnie Granat <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com>, 'TECHWR-L' <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2007 00:41:47 -0700 (PDT)


I thought about your original question a little more and probably should have concluded my previous post with the following:

As for comparing public access to free, no-cost, copyleft software with public access to Toyota's manufacturing processes and plans, the former is more or less a no-brainer, while the latter invokes public access to what's probably patented and perhaps privileged material. One can compare them as much as they want to, but they are not the same kind of intellectual material, nor do they share the same kind of rights.

jan cohen

Jan Cohen <najnehoc -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote: Hi Bonnie,

Hope you don't mind if I step in here. The discussion's pretty interesting.

It looks to me like the only real distinction between free, no-cost software and free, but *possibly* at cost software is whether or not the concept of copyleft applies. My interpretation of the information found at the two links mentioned below leads me to believe that unlike copylefted software, non-copylefted software, whether actually "free" or not, can be deemed by someone other than that software's original author as proprietary software for restricted release. If one accepts my interpretation as correct, it could follow that though Toyota's manufacturing plans and processes might be proprietary and thus restricted, they could still be free in a non-copylefted sense. That is, if one could apply the concept of copyleft to manufacturing plans and processes as one would to a software application.

I suspect that such is not the case though, as copyleft (or reciprocal) licenses look like they're only used in cases like software applications, the written word and other works of art where, e.g., a copyright might normally be applied as the alternative. OTOH, manufacturing processes and plans like Toyota's probably fall under the realm of patents. And if that's the case, even if Toyota allowed the public to come in and examine its manufacturing plans and processes, unlicensed duplication of any of its patented plans or processes could subject an offender to a civil lawsuit.

Of course, in the sense that non-copylefted software might be free but restricted, and patented manufacturing processes and plans licensable but free to authorized entities, I guess you could call them both free, but "at cost," to those that might rightfully (lawfully) possess them.

Does any of what I said make sense?

jan cohen

Bonnie Granat <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com> wrote: Greg,

I just wanted to show that I was talking about the term "free software," and it was after reading an explanation of it on that site ( that I posted my question. I'll go take a look at the URL you posted, though. Thanks.

OK. The URL you offered doesn't help answer my question, unfortunately.

So I guess my question still stands. "Free" software (and yes, I put scare quotes around "free" because to let the reader know that the word "free" doesn't mean "at no cost," which is the well-accepted general meaning of the word) seems to mean software code (techniques) that are given away. How does that differ from Toyota allowing the public to come in and examine its manufacturing plans and processes?

Bonnie Granat

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> techwr-l-bounces+bgranat=granatedit -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+bgranat=granatedit -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l
> .com] On Behalf Of Greg Holmes
> Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 8:52 AM
> Subject: RE: GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
> Bonnie Granat wrote:
> >I wish I understood the difference between "free
> >software" and looking at Toyota's manufacturing processes
> >without Toyota minding.
> Did you actually use scare quotes there?
> It's slightly confusing, but it's not *that* confusing!
> Here's a very good page for defining terms, disambiguating,
> and clearing up confusion:


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
Next by Author: Re: The technologically challenged?
Previous by Thread: RE: GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
Next by Thread: Examples of Poor Web page writing

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads