In the past I have taken a somewhat neutral stance on the non-Free nature of the MySQL documentation, but after the recent discussion about it I’ve reconsidered. I have changed my position; now I see the restrictions on the documentation as a serious problem for the community and partner ecosystem.
The arguments I’ve heard in favor of keeping the documentation non-Free do not hold up well when you shine a bright light on them, in my opinion. I will not go into them point-by-point here, nor do I invite comments to that effect on this article, but I have considered every point and every comment in recent discussion on the topic, and I don’t see a single valid reason to keep the documentation restricted. I’m firmly on the side of freedom now. It will be a huge win for everyone.
As usual, I don’t think I can say it as well as Richard M. Stallman does, so I’ll just quote:
But there is a particular reason why the freedom to modify is crucial for documentation for free software. When people exercise their right to modify the software, and add or change its features, if they are conscientious they will change the manual tooâ€”so they can provide accurate and usable documentation with the modified program. A manual which forbids programmers to be conscientious and finish the job, or more precisely requires them to write a new manual from scratch if they change the program, does not fill our community’s needs.
Free documentation is required for truly Free software. Karen Padir, please keep your implied promise during your keynote, and license the MySQL documentation under a Free Software documentation license.