Dependence on MySQL Documentation

Jul 23, 2009 / By Sheeri Cabral

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I think many people truly realized how much they take the MySQL documentation for granted during the recent multi-hour outage from’s data center. Apparently there is a lot of FUD floating around about the legality of mirroring the documentation, as presented by Justin Swanhart and asked by Mark Callaghan.

The manual page says:

You shall not publish or distribute this documentation in any form or on any media, except if you distribute the documentation in a manner similar to how Sun disseminates it (that is, electronically for download on a Web site with the software) or on a CD-ROM or similar medium, provided however that the documentation is disseminated together with the software on the same medium.

Now, I am not a lawyer, however, to me this means that you can indeed mirror the documentation, so long as you mirror the binaries as well. Giuseppe commented on Mark’s post (linked above) saying “There is no license restriction to mirror the docs.”

Note that I played a part in unknowingly spreading the FUD — I thought special permission was needed to mirror the documentation (and binaries) and indeed, it is not.

As a postscript, what are everyone’s favorite site mirror programs? Searching for an open-source website mirror did not reveal anything very popular, though I am sure there are a few “standard” mirroring tools that folks use. (Perhaps I should have searched for spiders, and seen which spiders have sync/download capabilities?)

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13 Responses to “Dependence on MySQL Documentation”

  • ESG says:

    I’ve always used wget in the past. Works good enough for me!

  • Mark Callaghan says:

    Does that mean I can serve the HTML files? Or can I only provide a download of html.tgz? I am not sure how to map the text of the docs copyright into language I can understand.

  • @Mark,
    It means that you can mirror the documentation if you offer the corresponding download file(s).
    The rationale of this rule is that we want to make sure that the online documentation is up to date. The documentation team uses the proprietary license to enforce this requirement, and they often ask sites to remove stale documentation.
    If you want to mirror the downloads and the docs, this page tells you how.



  • Mark Callaghan says:

    Thank you Giuseppe. That is exactly the information I wanted.

  • VadimTK says:

    Giuseppe Maxia ,

    Can we mirror documentation and add some chapters to ?

  • Gerry says:

    I found the mirrors thanks to Giuseppe’s tweet with the URL.

    Another good use of Twitter.

    My $.02

  • @vadim,
    As already discussed, the answer is “no.” The current license doesn’t allow that.
    Nobody prevents you from publishing the docs, as previously stated, in a web site that also contains other documentation, but you can’t modify the original docs. You can even add comments to the official documentation, pointing to your enhancements.


  • mutuelle says:

    Thank you Giuseppe. That is exactly the information I wanted.

  • […] on the Pythian blog, Sheeri Cabral diagnosed prevalent dependence on MySQL Documentation. She writes, “I think many people truly realized how much they take the MySQL documentation […]

  • Justin Swanhart says:

    >The documentation team uses the
    >proprietary license to enforce this
    >requirement, and they often ask sites to
    >remove stale documentation.

    So I can’t freely mirror the docs without worrying about keeping them up to date or I get a cease-and-desist letter. What if I only provide a copy of MySQL 4.1 for download, can I mirror the 5.0 docs?

    GPL software NEEDS GPL DOCS. Not allowing people to add comments, modify chapters and exerting other draconian copy controls on the docs is ill conceived at best.

  • Justin Swanhart says:

    And what about copying the docs and serving them on my intranet? The license is unclear about this too, in my opinion.

  • Sheeri Cabral says:


    I agree that GPL docs would be useful for the purposes that several people have in mind. However, there are still people out there that believe MySQL doesn’t have transactions because they have seen old documentation.

    The documentation folks have decided that the best way to handle that problem is to have a proprietary license, which is their prerogative. We are certainly welcome to disagree, but it’s silly.

    You can’t mirror the docs without mirroring the downloads; that’s pretty clear. And your example illustrates exactly the problem the community runs into — if someone provides MySQL 4.1 to download and mirrors the MySQL 5.0 documentation, lots of people are going to be confused as to why half the features they expect (like INFORMATION_SCHEMA) do not exist.

  • mutuelle says:

    Can we mirror documentation and add some chapters to ?

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