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You are here: Home FSF News FSF Releases New Version of GNU Free Documentation License

FSF Releases New Version of GNU Free Documentation License

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Nov 03, 2008 11:07 AM
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Monday, November 3, 2008 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced the release of version 1.3 of the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL). This version of the license allows public wikis to relicense their FDL-covered materials under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 3.0 license.

This new permission has been added at the request of the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees the Wikipedia project. The same terms are available to any public wiki that uses materials available under the new license. The Wikimedia Foundation will now initiate a process of community discussion and voting to determine whether or not to use CC-BY-SA 3.0 as the license for Wikipedia.

"Wikis often import material from a wide variety of sources, many of which use the CC-BY-SA license," said Brett Smith, licensing compliance engineer at the FSF. "Wikipedia, however, uses the GNU FDL. The incompatibility between these two licenses has been an obstacle to moving material back and forth between these sites. The new provision of FDL version 1.3 will give Wikipedia and other wikis another chance to choose the licensing policies they prefer."

"We are grateful to the leadership of the Free Software Foundation for taking this important step," explained Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. "In doing this, the FSF is giving the Wikimedia community an opportunity to make a licensing decision that honors our mutual commitment to free culture, and best supports the mission and goals of Wikipedia and its sister projects."

Version 1.3 of the GNU FDL also adopts the license proxy and termination clauses that are part of the GNU General Public License version 3, released last year. The full text of the new license, along with more information, is available at The text of CC-BY-SA 3.0 is available at

The FSF is still accepting comments as it considers a major revision of the license, FDL version 2.0. More information is available at

About the FSF

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of its wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. It operates some of the largest collaboratively-edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, one of the world's 10 most-visited websites. The Foundation was created in 2003 by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia.

For a full list of projects, visit

All projects of the Wikimedia Foundation are collaboratively developed by volunteers using the MediaWiki software. All contributions are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (except Wikinews, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5). This means their content may be freely used, freely edited, freely copied and freely redistributed subject to the restrictions of that license.

Media Contacts

Brett Smith
Licensing Compliance Engineer
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942 x18


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