free licensing of TEI Guidelines
I am writing to seek advice concerning the wording of a copyleft
license for the TEI Guidelines, which we hope to package for Debian
in the near future.
The Text Encoding Initiative's _Guidelines for Electronic Text
Encoding and Interchange_ are a large specification for applying XML
(or SGML) encoding to electronic texts. Probably the most similar
project with which you might be familiar is DocBook, which is
currently available as a Debian package. The Guidelines define a
system for encoding texts, a method for extending the system, and a
strict concept of conformance to the Guidelines. With the upcoming
release of the Guidelines the root element of a TEI-conformant text
will be <TEI>. (Previous releases have used <TEI.1> and <TEI.2>.) The
upcoming release of the Guidelines (alpha this summer we hope) will
also include a namespace for TEI, probably "http://www.tei-
The Guidelines are maintained and developed by the TEI Consortium, an
international non-profit corporation which is funded as a membership
consortium. This corporation holds the copyright for the Guidelines,
and exists to develop, maintain, and promulgate them.
The Board of Directors has explicitly stated that the Guidelines are
to be not only available for purchase in published book form, but
also freely accessible to the world on the web (in HTML), and
available to member organizations for free as camera-ready copy (in
PDF). Furthermore the Board stated that we would not consider the
copying of a complete chapter (or less) as a copyright violation
(whether the law considers such copying fair use or not), and we
actively encourage people to mirror the HTML version of the
We would like to encourage even broader dissemination of the
Guidelines, and in particular we would like to encourage the creation
of derivative, TEI-conformant sets of Guidelines (for instance,
applications of the Guidelines to a specific field), and to permit
the creation of other derivative encoding schemes (which might even
compete directly with the original in the marketplace of encoding
Indeed, in part because many (if not most) of us are Debian users, we
would like to see a Debian "main" (*not* non-free) TEI package set
available. However, in doing so we feel it is important to place
some constraints, so that the larger goal of maintaining a standard
is not lost.
The goal here is not to prevent modification of the guidelines, nor
to prevent the creation of non-TEI derivatives, but rather to prevent
confusion between the two.
Our idea was to use the GFDL and register as invariant a short
section that says, in essence, "A text is TEI-conformant only if it
adheres to the definition of conformance spelled out in the original
version of the Guidelines as published by TEI-C".
While this would meet the goals articulated above, it appears that
Debian has some potentially serious objections to the GFDL. So the
question arises, how can we create a copyleft license that is
sufficiently free for Debian, but at the same time prevents others
from claiming TEI-conformance for texts that are not?
I thought that there might be some utility in seeing how the DocBook
copyright notice reads. Here are some excerpts:
| If you modify the DocBook DTD in any way, except for declaring and
| referencing additional sets of general entities and declaring
| additional notations, label your DTD as a variant of DocBook. See
| the maintenance documentation for more information.
| Any stylesheet derived from this Software that is publically
| distributed will be identified with a different name and the
| version strings in any derived Software will be changed so that no
| possibility of confusion between the derived package and this
| Software will exist.
Apparently Debian finds these minor restrictions acceptable. So I've
been thinking that if we can write either
a) a copyleft notice that requires those who modify the Guidelines to
retain unmodified or delete in its entirety the section that
defines TEI conformance, or
b) a copyleft notice that requires that modified versions of the
Guidelines describe documents with a different root element name
(perhaps, similar to "<?xml", reserving any string that matches
"^[Tt][Ee][Ii]") and to not use the TEI namespace.
I suspect you will say (a) is not compatible with the DFSG. While the
TEI-C hasn't discussed (b) in detail (I wanted to check with you
folks first), I believe that it would be sufficient to meet our con-
cerns, and yet (as with the DocBook license) be sufficiently free to
So, is (b) compatible with Debian, and if so, would someone be
willing to help me write up a copyleft notice? If not, does anyone
have any suggestions?
Thank you for your time. If someone feels he or she could be helpful,
but would rather talk by phone, please let me know.
Main website: http://www.tei-c.org/
Guidelines themselves: http://www.tei-c.org/P4X/
Organizational information: http://www.tei-c.org/Consortium/
European mirror: http://www.tei-c.org.uk/
 And have already had extensive discussions with Mark Johnson
Syd Bauman, EMT-Paramedic
SGML & XML Programmer/Analyst North American Editor
Brown University Women Writers Project Text Encoding Initiative
Syd_Bauman@Brown.edu 401-863-3835 http://www.tei-c.org/