13

This is not really a technical question. However I am wondering how a license (like the GNU GPL) should be cited in BibTeX.

2
  • Good question, but I think "publish" is the wrong word here. Commented May 10, 2012 at 12:05
  • Well it should be an item in the Bibliography list. Commented May 10, 2012 at 12:10

2 Answers 2

6

Here is how I would write the bibliography entry for the GPL for use with biblatex:

@misc{gplv3,
  title        = {GNU General Public License},
  version      = {3},
  shorthand    = {GPL},
  organization = {Free Software Foundation},
  url          = {http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html},
  pagination   = {section},
  language     = {english},
  date         = {2007-06-29}
  }

Note that its version and the organization behind it are explicitly stated. Also note that the pagination type section is given which reflects the type cross-references in the license itself. Finally, note that I have included a shorthand to make citations leaner.

Here is an example:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage[style=authoryear-comp]{biblatex}

\usepackage{filecontents}

\begin{filecontents*}{database.bib}
@misc{gplv3,
  title        = {GNU General Public License},
  version      = {3},
  shorthand    = {GPL},
  organization = {Free Software Foundation},
  url          = {http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html},
  pagination   = {section},
  language     = {english},
  date         = {2007-06-29}
  }
\end{filecontents*}

\bibliography{database.bib}

\begin{document}

\autocite[2]{gplv3}

\printshorthands

\printbibliography

\end{document}

Output of the example

3

With BibTeX, I'd used a misc entry type and do something like:

@misc{gpl,
 title = {GNU General Public License, version 3},
 howpublished = {\url{http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html}},
 note = {Last retrieved 2012-05-10},
 year = {2007},
 month = {June}
}

With biblatex, I'd use an online entry type, see biblatex manual for details.

5
  • 2
    I disagree with the note. The license has publication date and such notes are for websites. The license v3 won't ever change! Any change will lead to a new version number. I would remove note and add the full date 29th June 2007. Commented May 10, 2012 at 12:30
  • Martin, some stricter institutions require that web-pages be cited with the last retrieved date. The license is of course fixed, by the URL may not be.
    – texnic
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 14:49
  • 2
    Yes, but this isn't a website, it's a license! The fact that there is a website for it doesn't change that. At least add the full date, not just the year. Commented May 10, 2012 at 14:51
  • The publication is a web-site, and AFAIK this is the official publication. Therefore it needs a full citation required for this type of publications, and for the web-sites it includes the last-retrieved date just as a journal paper includes a volume and a book includes an ISBN. However I agree that as much detail as possible should be included so adding more info about the original date is a good idea. Edited the answer accordingly.
    – texnic
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 18:10
  • Martin, I don't refuse to add the full date of the document, I just don't see a good way to do so. It is not a part of the title, and bibtex doesn't offer anything better than the month and year AFAIK. As for the last retrieved date, it's standard: If you give a link to a web-page, this link may stop working because the page (with unchanged text of the license) is moved elsewhere. That's why, when giving a link, you should include the LR date.
    – texnic
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 18:26

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