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Wikipedia:Simple English GFDL

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Simple English version of the GNU Free Documentation License

This is an unofficial translation of the GNU Free Documentation License into Simple English. It was not published by the Free Software Foundation, and does not legally state the distribution terms for documentation that uses the GNU FDL--only the original English Text Of The GNU Free Documentation License does that. However, we hope that this translation will help people to understand the GNU FDL better.

This translation is not finished. See the talk page for latest progress.

Version 1.2, November 2002 Translated into simple English, August 2003

Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002  Free Software Foundation, Inc.
59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA  02111-1307  USA


This is a License (permission) that makes text documents "free" in the sense everyone can copy the text and give them to other people. They can change it if they want to. They can make money from it if they want to. Also, this License means the author and publisher get credit for their work, even if other people change the document texts.

This License is a kind of "copyleft". This means that new documents based on the original must also use the License. The GNU General Public License is the same but is about software.

This License was made to use with manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation (documents). A free program should come with free manuals. But this License is not just for software manuals; it can be used for any written work. It does not matter what the work is and it does not matter if it is a printed book. This License is best if the document is about teaching people things, or if the document is for reference.


This License applies to any work, in any form (text, images, sounds, CD-ROM, DVD, etc.) that contains a notice placed by the author(s) saying it can be given to others under the terms of this License. A notice like that allows every person to use that work under the conditions of the License, at any place and any time, without having to pay money to the person who made the work. The "Document", below, refers to any manual or work. Any member of the public is a licensee, and is called "you". You accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a way requiring permission under copyright law.

A "Modified Version" of the Document means any work containing the Document or a portion of it, either copied exactly, or with changes and/or translated into another language.

A "Secondary Section" is a named appendix or a front-matter section of the Document that deals only with the relationship of the publishers or authors of the Document to the Document's overall subject (or to related matters) and contains nothing that could be considered about that subject. (Thus, if the Document is in part a textbook of mathematics, a Secondary Section may not explain any mathematics.) The relationship could be a matter of historical connection with the subject or with related matters, or of legal, commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position regarding them.

The "Invariant Sections" are certain Secondary Sections whose titles are designated, as being those of Invariant Sections, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. If a section does not fit the above definition of Secondary then it is not allowed to be designated as Invariant. The Document may contain zero Invariant Sections. If the Document does not identify any Invariant Sections then there are none.

The "Cover Texts" are certain short passages of text that are listed, as Front-Cover Texts or Back-Cover Texts, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. A Front-Cover Text may be at most 5 words, and a Back-Cover Text may be at most 25 words.

A "Transparent" copy of the Document means a machine-readable copy, represented in a format whose specification is available to the general public, that is suitable for revising the document straightforwardly with generic text editors or (for images composed of pixels) generic paint programs or (for drawings) some widely available drawing editor, and that is suitable for input to text formatters or for automatic translation to a variety of formats suitable for input to text formatters. A copy made in an otherwise Transparent file format whose markup, or absence of markup, has been arranged to thwart or discourage subsequent modification by readers is not Transparent. An image format is not Transparent if used for any substantial amount of text. A copy that is not "Transparent" is called "Opaque".

Examples of suitable formats for Transparent copies include plain ASCII without markup, Texinfo input format, LaTeX input format, SGML or XML using a publicly available DTD, and standard-conforming simple HTML, PostScript or PDF designed for human modification. Examples of transparent image formats include PNG, XCF and JPG. Opaque formats include proprietary formats that can be read and edited only by proprietary word processors, SGML or XML for which the DTD and/or processing tools are not generally available, and the machine-generated HTML, PostScript or PDF produced by some word processors for output purposes only.

The "Title Page" means, for a printed book, the title page itself, plus such following pages as are needed to hold, legibly, the material this License requires to appear in the title page. For works in formats which do not have any title page as such, "Title Page" means the text near the most prominent appearance of the work's title, preceding the beginning of the body of the text.

A section "Entitled XYZ" means a named subunit of the Document whose title either is precisely XYZ or contains XYZ in parentheses following text that translates XYZ in another language. (Here XYZ stands for a specific section name mentioned below, such as "Acknowledgements", "Dedications", "Endorsements", or "History".) To "Preserve the Title" of such a section when you modify the Document means that it remains a section "Entitled XYZ" according to this definition.

The Document may include Warranty Disclaimers next to the notice which states that this License applies to the Document. These Warranty Disclaimers are considered to be included by reference in this License, but only as regards disclaiming warranties: any other implication that these Warranty Disclaimers may have is void and has no effect on the meaning of this License.


You can copy and give away the Document. It can be in any form (printed or on a disk etc). You can sell it or give it away free. If you do, you must put these things with it;

You can not add any more conditions to the Licence.

You can not do anything technical that makes it hard for people to read or copy the document.

You can sell the copies.

If you give away or sell lots of copies, you must do what it says in section 3.

You can also lend copies (the same rules apply). You can display copies to the general public.


If you have more than 100 copies of your document printed (or even if the copies are not printed, but they have a printed cover), and you have to have cover texts of your documents, you have to put all of these copies in covers with have all cover texts. You must have:

  • Front cover texts on the front cover
  • Back cover texts on the back cover

You also have to have your (or your company's) name on both covers, showing that you printed them. The front cover also must have the full title with all of the words written the same way. All words must be able to be seen. You can also put anything else on the cover. If you change anything on the cover, you can call this a word-for-word (verbatim) copy. However, you can't call it verbatim if you change the title or break the rules in this license.

If the required texts for either cover need so much space that they are not easily readable, you should put the first ones listed (as many as fit reasonably) on the actual cover, and continue the rest on the following pages.

If you publish or distribute Opaque copies of the Document numbering more than 100, you must either include a machine-readable Transparent copy along with each Opaque copy, or state in or with each Opaque copy a computer-network location from which the general network-using public has access to download using public-standard network protocols a complete Transparent copy of the Document, free of added material. If you use the latter option, you must take reasonably prudent steps, when you begin distribution of Opaque copies in quantity, to ensure that this Transparent copy will remain thus accessible at the stated location until at least one year after the last time you distribute an Opaque copy (directly or through your agents or retailers) of that edition to the public.

It is a good idea to contact the authors of the Document before you make a lot of copies, to give them a chance to give you the most up-to-date version. But you don't have to do that.


You can change this Document and then sell it or give it away. If you do this:

  • you must do what it says in sections 2 and 3 above
  • you must release the changed document under this License
  • the Changed Version must fill the role of the Document, thus licensing distribution and modification of the changed Version to whoever possesses a copy of it.

You must also do these things on the Title Page of the Changed Version:

  • A. The title (on the Title Page and on the covers, if there are any) must be different from the original (and any other versions). These other versions should (if there were any) be listed in the History pages of the Document. If the original publisher says you can use the same name then you can.
  • B. List the names of the people that made the Changed Version. And list at least five of the main authors of the Document. If the authors say you don't have to list them, then you don't.
  • C. Write the name of the publisher of the Changed Version (and say they are the publisher).

You must also do these things:

  • D. Keep all the copyright notices of the Document.
  • E. Add the right copyright notice for the changes (next to the other copyright notices).
  • F. Just after the copyright notices, write the license notice. This must give the public permission to use the Changed Version (as long as they agree to do what this licence says). You must write it in the way shown below.
  • H. An copy of this License must be put with it. You must put the original Licence, not a changed one.
  • I. You must keep the "History" section. You can not change the name of the history section. You must add to the History section the new title, the year, the names of the people that wrote the new version and the name of the publisher of the new version. (The same as you wrote on the Title Page). If there is not a History section already, make one and do the things above.
  • J. If the Document is on a network, you must keep that network in a way that lets people see it. The address of the Document must be kept in the same place that the Document says it is. You should do the same for the network locations of the old versions the Document was based on. You can put these in the "History" section. If the Document was published four years (or more) before the changed version, then you don't have to say what the address of it is. If the publisher of the original version says you don't have to do this, then you don't.
  • K. If a section has the title "Acknowledgements" or "Dedications", you must keep this title. You must keep what was said about the people who wrote the Document. You must keep the dedications. You must keep what was said, and the way it was said.
  • L. You must keep all the Invariant Sections of the Document. You must not change the words or the titles. You can change the section numbers (these are not part of the title).
  • M. You must delete a section with the title "Endorsements". You must not include this in the Changed Version.
  • N. You must not give any other part the title "Endorsements". You can not add any title that is the same as a title of any of the Invariant Sections.
  • O. You must keep the Warranty Disclaimers.

If the Changed Version has new front-matter sections or appendices that qualify as Secondary Sections and contain no material copied from the Document, you may at your option designate some or all of these sections as invariant. To do this, write the title of these sections in the list of Invariant Sections (this is part of the Changed Version's license notice). These titles must be very different from the title of any other section.

You may add a section with the title "Endorsements" but only if it contains nothing but endorsements of the Changed Version. These can be from different people. They might be a statement of peer review. They might say that a company approves of it.

You may add five words (or less) as a Front-Cover Text, and a passage of up to 25 words as a Back-Cover Text, to the end of the list of Cover Texts in the Changed Version. Only one passage of Front-Cover Text and one of Back-Cover Text may be added by (or through arrangements made by) any one entity. If the Document already includes a cover text for the same cover, previously added by you or by arrangement made by the same entity you are acting on behalf of, you may not add another; but you may replace the old one, on explicit permission from the previous publisher that added the old one.

The author(s) and publisher(s) of the Document do not by this License give permission to use their names for publicity for or to assert or imply endorsement of any changed Version.


You are allowed to put together a Document with other documents that are under this License, but you have to do what it says in section 4 about changed versions, and you have to put in the combination (things put together) all of the sections you didn't put together of all of the original documents without changing them, and list them all as Sections you didn't put together of your combined work in its license notice. You must also keep all their Warranty Disclaimers the same.

The combined work can only have one copy of this License, and more than two same non-combined Sections may be replaced with one copy. If there are more than two non-combined Sections with the same name but different text, make the title of each section different by adding at the end of it, in parentheses, the name of the original author or publisher of that section if known, or else a special number that none of the others have. Make the same change to the section titles in the list of non-combined Sections in the license notice of the combined work.

In the combination, you must combine any sections named "History" in the various not changed documents, making one section named "History"; and combine any sections named "Acknowledgements", and any sections named "Dedications". You have to delete all sections named "Endorsements."


You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.

You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.


A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an "aggregate" if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.

If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document, then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.


Translating is changing the language. You can give away translations (as long as you do what it says in section 4). You can not translate the Invariant Sections if the person who has the copyright does not let you. But you can put in a translation if you don't take away the original.

You are allowed to include a translation of this License or the other documents if you include the original English version of them. If the translated version says something different, the original is the one that is right.

Section titles such as "Acknowledgements", "Dedications", or "History" may be translated to words with the same meaning in the language the rest of the document has been translated to.


You are not allowed to copy, change, sublicense, or give away the Document if you are not going to follow all the rules of this License. If you try to do this, the License is void and will stop any rights it gives you. If other people have not broken the License, they still have rights, even if you were the one that originally gave them the rights by properly following the rules of this License.


The Free Software Foundation can change the GFDL. The idea will be the same but there might be small changes or new things to make it better.

See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.

Each change to the GFDL has a new version number. If the Document says that one number "or any later number" is used, then you can choose which version you use as long as that is the same number or a higher one. If the Document does not say which number it is, you can choose any version. The version must be one that has been written by the Free Software Foundation. This does not include draft (unfinished) versions.

See also: Original Unsimplified Version