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February 12, 2024

GFDL: GNU Free Documentation License

February 12, 2024
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The GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) is a copyleft license that enables authors to distribute their works with minimal restrictions. Developed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the GFDL is specifically designed for documentation, providing a means for authors to share and modify their works while ensuring that subsequent versions of the material remain free.


The GFDL was first introduced in 2000 as an extension to the GNU General Public License (GPL), a widely used free software license. It was created to address the unique needs of documentation projects, allowing authors to use a standardized license that promotes collaboration and the sharing of knowledge.

The license defines certain terms and conditions that govern the redistribution, modification, and usage of covered documents. These documents can range from technical manuals and reference guides to textbooks and academic papers. By using the GFDL, authors can grant permissions to users that would not be permissible under traditional copyright law.


One of the primary advantages of the GFDL is its copyleft nature. Unlike traditional copyright, which restricts users from modifying or sharing copyrighted works, the GFDL permits users to modify and redistribute covered documents. This ensures that knowledge is freely accessible and editable, fostering a collaborative environment for the improvement and evolution of documented materials.

Furthermore, the GFDL allows for the incorporation of multiple works into a single document. This feature is particularly beneficial when compiling comprehensive references or encyclopedic resources. By providing guidelines for the handling of multiple contributors and their respective works, the GFDL promotes the creation of comprehensive and citable documents.


The GFDL finds extensive use in the realm of open-source documentation. It is the license of choice for numerous online knowledge bases, such as Wikipedia, where collaboration and the sharing of information are paramount. By utilizing the GFDL, these projects can ensure that their content remains freely available to all and can be continuously improved upon by volunteers around the world.

Additionally, the GFDL can be employed by individual authors and organizations alike. It offers a legal framework for the distribution of technical manuals, user guides, and other forms of documentation. By adopting the GFDL for these works, authors can maintain control over the integrity of their documents while encouraging the community to contribute to their improvement.


The GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) is a vital tool for authors and organizations involved in the creation and distribution of documentation. By embracing the principles of copyleft, the GFDL enables the sharing and collaboration necessary for the advancement of knowledge in various fields, including software development, IT product market dynamics, fintech, healthtech, and project management within the IT sector. Its use ensures that both creators and users can benefit from the collective effort of a global community of contributors, making the GFDL a cornerstone of open access and open-source documentation.

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