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Fedora Documentation Licensing FAQ

Stop (medium size).png This document is not legal advice.
The information below is believed to be accurate where it lies outside of the Fedora Project's area of influence. It does not constitute legal advice.
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The purpose of this FAQ is to answer questions about licensing for the Fedora Documentation Project. It does not constitute legal advice.

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Fedora Documentation

What Documentation is Managed or Provided by the Fedora Project ?

Fedora documentation consists of three types of content:

  • The contents of the Fedora Wiki, contributed by members of the Fedora community, that has been licensed for distribution
  • The formal documentation maintained by the DocsProject, such as the Release Notes and the Installation Guide

Fedora Core and Fedora Extras include many pieces of software developed by other projects. The documentation for these products is provided as the original developers supply it. Third-party documentation may use a variety of licenses and formats.

The Fedora Project only distributes documentation that is provided under a Free license.

Documentation Licensing

What are the Licensing Goals for Fedora Documentation ?

The goals for documentation licensing are the same for the Fedora Project. To create documentation that is perpetually free/libre.

Similarly, Fedora Documentation Project chooses freedom over convenience. It sometimes requires considerable effort to create and maintain something that is entirely free and open, but the resulting work is more valuable and useful because of it.

What are the Licensing Terms of Fedora Documentation ?

All Fedora documentation is provided under the terms of the Open Publication License (OPL).

This means that:

  • You may freely copy and distribute all Fedora documentation
  • You may modify copies of any Fedora documentation, and redistribute your modified versions
  • You may reuse parts of Fedora documentation in your own work

These freedoms apply for all purposes, commercial and noncommercial, and all types of media.

In other words, this license provides you with the four basic freedoms of the GNU Free Software Definition .

What Restrictions Does the Licensing Impose ?

The files provided by the Fedora Documentation Project on the public web site include the correct legal notices - you may freely copy and distribute these without having to do anything further.

If you modify copies of the documentation, or reuse portions in another document, you must acknowledge the copyrights and the license by including the appropriate notice in your work, as described in section I of the OPL. Section IV of the OPL explains how to correctly attribute the author and the Project in your work.

If you are publishing documentation in paper form (such as a book), section I of the OPL also describes how to credit the author and the Project on the cover of your publication.

Section V of the OPL provides some useful guidelines for those distributing documentation on disc or as hard copy. Note that the items in Section V are not required.

The Fedora Project does not use any of the options in Section VI of the OPL.

Why Not Use Another License, Such as a Creative Commons (CC) License, or the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) ?

The legal counsel for the Fedora Project carefully examined all of the well-known content licenses, and concluded that only the OPL met all of the criteria for an unambiguous and enforceable license that would guarantee the freedoms of contributors and users.

Doesn't Red Hat Documentation Use the OPL ?

The documentation provided by Red Hat, Inc. is licensed under the OPL today, and has been using the optional clauses to prevent the documents being modified and published without permission.

Red Hat is going to remove those optional clauses and use the same license as Fedora Documentation. More details about this are forthcoming.

The licensing for Fedora documentation does not use these optional clauses - you may modify and reuse Fedora Project documentation without requiring permission.

Red Hat documentation that uses the same OPL licensing is going to be able to intermingle content with the Fedora community.

How Does This Affect Previously Released Versions of Fedora Documentation ?

Copies of documents distributed under the FDL remain under the FDL, but all Fedora documentation is now licensed under the OPL. The master copies in CVS and the files on the public web site are provided under the OPL, and not the FDL.

Existing documentation needs to be re-licensed or dual-licensed by the copyright owner under the OPL without optional clauses.

In practice, anyone simply using files previously provided by the Documentation Project is not affected by this change - all Fedora documentation may be copied and used freely.


Do I Have Absolute Control Over My Work ?

You have copyright over all of the material that you contribute to the Fedora Project.

In order to ensure that documentation may be continue to be maintained and distributed, the process of submitting content to the Fedora Documentation Project includes a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) that makes Red Hat, on behalf of the Fedora Project, an additional copyright holder. This does not affect your own rights in any way.

Similarly, we ask that you permit Red Hat, on behalf of the Fedora Project, to be an additional copyright holder over the material that you submit to the Fedora Project Wiki. Without this agreement, the Project may be unable to legally redistribute material that you have edited.

May I Contribute Documentation Under Alternative Licenses ?

In order to provide the guarantees we make for all of our documentation, the Fedora Project may not accept documents under licenses other than the OPL.

May I Use My Contributed Work for Other Purposes ?

Yes. As the copyright holder you may provide copies of your work to anyone, under any licensing terms that you wish.

Redistributing and Modifying Fedora Documentation

How Do I Obtain Fedora Documentation ?

The Fedora project publishes formal documentation on the web site, and will also provide the documentation as packages in Fedora Extras. The contents of the Wiki are accessible from the Wiki site itself.

To obtain source files for the formal Fedora documentation for use with your own projects, we recommend that you download the latest copies from our CVS repository, and use the provided scripts to generate HTML files.

For instructions on downloading the DocBook source files and build scripts, please refer to our web site .

May I Publish Fedora Documentation on an Intranet or a Public Website ?


If you provide copies of documentation files on your own web site we recommend that you join the documentation mailing list or check our web site regularly, in order to be aware of changes and new versions.

May I Distribute Copies of Fedora Documentation ?

Yes, you are welcome to distribute Fedora documentation through any media that you wish.

Section V of the OPL provides some useful guidelines for distributing documentation on disc or as hard copy. Note that the items in Section V are not required.

May I Reuse Fedora Documentation for Other Open Source Projects ?

Yes, absolutely. Note that if you use a modified version of the Fedora software the trademark guidelines apply.

The DocBook master copies of Fedora documentation use variables (referred to as entities) for Fedora trademarked names. This means that you may replace the trademarked names by changing the variables in the file docs-common/common/fedora-entities-en.ent before generating the documentation.

Fedora documentation standards specify that screen-shots and references to specific software version numbers should be kept to a minimum, but you should check the documentation that you use to ensure that it matches your product.

May I Reproduce Fedora Documentation for Commercial Purposes ?

Yes. You may use Fedora documentation as part of your own articles, books, web sites, presentations, training materials etc., with no royalties required. You may also quote or reuse parts of Fedora documents.

The OPL requires you to acknowledge the license, and attribute the authors and the Fedora Project - the earlier question on restrictions explains this in more detail.

If you are using Fedora documentation as a significant part of a commercial activity you may wish to contact the Documentation Project to discuss your requirements, or arrange joint development - see the question below for details.

May I Include Fedora Documentation in My Own Linux Distribution ?

Yes. See the earlier question on reusing the documentation for more information on how to do this.

Is the Documentation Licensing "Viral" ?

No. This is a quote from section III of the OPL:

Mere aggregation of Open Publication works or a portion of an Open Publication work with other works or programs on the same media shall not cause this license to apply to those other works. The aggregate work shall contain a notice specifying the inclusion of the Open Publication material and appropriate copyright notice.

In other words, you must abide by the terms of the license when you reuse the documentation in your own work, but you are not obliged to change the overall licensing of your document or any other work.

For Inquiries and Further Information

For General Inquiries

To discuss Fedora documentation, please post to the public mailing list of the Fedora Documentation Project.

To discuss the Fedora Project Wiki, or other Fedora web sites, please post to the websites public mailing list .

Legal Queries

If you have any legal or licensing queries that are not addressed by either this document or the text of the OPL itself, please contact us at and we can forward relevant legal questions on to the Fedora Project Board.