[Mailman-Users] Using mailman output in web page documentation

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Fri Dec 18 22:48:40 EST 2015

Mark Sapiro writes:
 > On 12/17/2015 02:57 PM, Adrian Pepper wrote:

 > >  I found it convenient to use mechanical dumps of mailman pages
 > >  in attempting to create some moderator documentation, intended
 > >  primarily for local use at the university where I work.
 > > 
 > >  Such dumped pages do not contain any formal copyright/left
 > >  statement beyond
 > >      alt="GNU's NOT Unix"
 > > 
 > >  1. Is there a suitable comment one could/should (should not?) add to
 > >     attribute the source of such excerpts to GNU (GFDL?).

FDL is not possible without permission of the FSF.  All of Mailman is
licensed under the GPL, including documentation and text included in
the executable program.  (My personal recommendation is that the FDL
should be avoided in favor of any other free license in use by the
project.  Eg, technically FDL+GPL does not permit anyone but the FSF
to move documentation out of code into manuals, or from manuals into
code.  It also has a number of obnoxious provisions like cover texts
and invariant sections which are explicitly intended to be abused to
make political statements that downstream is expected to disagree
with, and pander to commercial interests.)

 > I am neither a lawyer nor an expert in free/open source licenses, so
 > take this with a grain of salt.

IANAL, but I'm somewhat knowledgable.

 > Mailman is produced by the GNU Mailman project which is a GNU project.
 > As such, the Mailman developers have assigned copyright to the Free

This phrasing is somewhat inaccurate.  Assignment is not required of
GNU projects, nor is assignment to the FSF restricted to GNU projects.
It happens that Mailman has a policy of assigning to the FSF.

 > Software Foundation and Mailman is distributed and licensed under the
 > GPL (v2 for Mailman 2.1).

v2 or later.

 > The HTML produced by Mailman's CGI modules does contain lots of
 > literal strings (or translations thereof) which are part of the
 > program, so it is at least arguable that this HTML is a derivative
 > work.

It's clearly a derivative work.

 > Thus, I think a brief statement to the effect that this HTML is
 > copyright by the Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Adrian's copyright is probably also involved.  I'm not sure it's a
good idea to mention the FSF specifically here.  If anybody wants to
do something with Adrian's documentation beyond what's permitted by
the GPL, they probably need to talk to him first anyway, unless his
whole documentation really is just saved HTML as created by the
Mailman CGI.

 > and licensed under the GPL would be appropriate.

The FSF's current preferred form for source code is

    GNU Mailman is free software: you can redistribute it and/or
    modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
    published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the
    License, or (at your option) any later version.

    GNU Mailman is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
    WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    General Public License for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with GNU Mailman.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

What I personally would do in HTML is put "This document is derived
from GNU Mailman, and distributed under the same terms." at the end of
the document, and then link to the GPL on the GNU site.  Also add the
text above as an HTML comment, or better yet as ALT= text for the link.

I'm as picky as anyone about these things.  I'm mentioning this as the
*maximum* you would want to do (anything more leads to maintenance
problems in the long run).

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