Re: "Copyleft" article in New Scientist

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 17:02:20 +0000

On Fri, 8 Feb 2002, Steve Hitchcock wrote:

> SHa> It is not clear what the counterpart of "software development" would be
> SHa> in the case of text.
> A posting on Peter Suber's list today indirectly points to this
> What do others think of the GNU Free Documentation License? Although the
> origins and title suggest this might be aimed at software manuals, the
> preamble suggests it might also apply to a 'textbook, or other written
> document'. Peter's correspondent, who appears to have applied the license
> successfully to a textbook, recommends: 'It makes the most sense for
> scholarship, documentation, and other things that may outlive the original
> author's interest'.

At the risk of sounding parochial (which would be paradoxical, as the
truth is quite the opposite): the primary concern of this Forum is
the peer-reviewed research literature (20,000 annual journals' worth of
it). That literature is an author give-away. Apart from wanting to be
properly credited for its authorship (i.e., protected from plagiarism)
and to be ensured that the text is not altered or corrupted in any way,
these authors seek nothing in return for accessing, reading and using
their texts.

This is definitely not true of textbook authors.

I think this means that there is no interesting common ground between
these two literatures, insofar as questions of access and use are
concerned. I don't think they shed any informative light on one
another, but rather the opposite. (And considerations after the
textbook author and his heirs are long dead and gone are rather too
remote to be a useful point of comparison.)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Feb 08 2002 - 17:02:35 GMT

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