Translation of a Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL) Book
Thread poster: seawalker

seawalker
Local time: 13:45
English to Turkish
+ ...
Oct 13, 2006

I downloaded a technical book in .pdf form from an open free source in Internet. I liked the contents and learned that this book is not yet translated into my language. Now, I would like to translate this hefty book (500 pages) into my language and freely distribute and/or sell it through a publisher (I can manage to find one as the book is preciously technical). My main motive for doing this is not money, but academic purposes. I think about selling as it would not be bad if I can cover my translation time and expenses.
The book has a copyright notice saying "Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GFDL........" but nothing about translation. What is the correct way to follow? Thanks in advance...


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 12:45
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
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start with http://www.fsf.org/ Oct 13, 2006

Hi seawalker:

I am also one of "them"...

Not very concisely, but to the best of my undserstanding: the book you are talking is free - in the sense of being a property of nobody -. If you translate it, you will need to keep the licence "as is" - or translated, its been translated already I guess - and then you may add your own points about your part of the work - ie translation -. Eventually your translated book should be as free as the original has been so far.

regards


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:45
German to English
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Translation of a Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL) Book Oct 13, 2006

Seawalker,

If the book is licensed under the GFDL, you are entitled to translate it, publish it, distribute it and even sell it. However, you are also obliged to make your translation available free of charge. Books have been published in parallel in this way before now. The question you have to ask yourself is whether there would still be a market for your translation in printed form if anyone were able to download it free of charge and print it out. This would depend upon the quality benefit of the printed version, and the goodwill of the readership.

If you are more interested in the publicity and less in making money out of the translation, you might consider publishing it as an e-book, i.e. published properly with its own ISBN number etc., but not printed.

Marc


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:45
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Translation = derivative work Oct 16, 2006

seawalker wrote:
The book has a copyright notice saying "Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GFDL........" but nothing about translation.


A translation is a derivative work. The same rules apply for a translation that apply to any altered version. But GFDL is a very restrictive licence. If the book has only one or very few previous authors, you could write to him/them and ask their permission to release the translation as Creative Commons or some other libre licence (but you need all previous authors' permission).


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:45
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Comment on: sell it and give away Oct 16, 2006

MarcPrior wrote:
If the book is licensed under the GFDL, you are entitled to translate it, publish it, distribute it and even sell it. However, you are also obliged to make your translation available free of charge.


I agree. But there are things you can do to entice people to pay for it instead of making their own copies of it.

* As far as I know (Marc can correct me here) the GFDL applies only to the raw text and not to the text formatting or the document format. This means that you can release a plaintext version of your translation along with a nicely printed version that uses a nice cover, fonts, colours, good quality paper, etc.

* A question to the FSF experts here: does the GFDL require you to distribute your translation for free? Or does it merely require that you permit other people to distribute it for free?

* I'm not sure if watermarking the printed paper is permitted in terms of the GFDL, but it would appear to me to be so. What I mean by watermarking is marking each page with a notice that is not visible to the naked eye, but which becomes visible when you photocopy it on a black-and-white photocopier.

* You can add value: You can for example distribute the printed version along with a CD ROM that contains additional material which is not licenced with a free licence. Or you could distribute the printed version bundled with another book (but it must be a separate book -- the GFDL is very restrictive on this point).

Any other ideas?


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Translation of a Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL) Book

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