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Re: teTeX Documentation Licenses



On Sun, Mar 10, 2002 at 05:13:51PM -0800, C.M. Connelly wrote:
> I will be attempting to contact the authors of the files that
> aren't DFSG-free to encourage them to clarify the licensing of
> their works (probably we'll get LPPL for most, although I'm happy
> to mention alternatives).  

Please do.  Please mention one or both of:

1) The Open Publication License, with none of the license options
exercised; http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/

2) The GNU Free Documentation License, with an explicit statement
asserting that there are Invariants Sections, and no Cover Texts;
http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html#TOC1

I've read the LPPL and I'm nervous about it, so I would not encourage
the authors of these documents to adopt it.  The two alternatives above
are uncontroversially DFSG-free according to the denizens of this
mailing list, as far as I've been able to tell.

> In the meantime, should we drop the possibly problematic files
> from our packages,

Yes.

> or can we continue distributing them on the basis that we have been
> distributing them without problems thus far,

Only due to ignorance.  Now that we are aware of the problem, we must
remove these materials from our distribution, or we are not honoring the
Debian Social Contract.

> and that CTAN continues to include them in their ``free'' section?

Other groups' definition of "free" is noteworthy and worthy of
consideration when considering amendments to the DFSG, but not
controlling.  The only Free that matters to Debian for the purposed of
our distribution is the one defined by the DFSG.

> (Files that are egregiously non-DFSG-free will, of course, be
> dropped.)

While it's often fun to talk this way, strictly speaking there are no
degrees of DFSG-freeness.  A work is either licensed in a DFSG-free way
or it is not.  A license may need greater or lesser amounts of
modification to satisfy the DFSG, but this isn't a guarantee of
anything.  Some people may have works that break every clause of the
DFSG but will change their license to satisfy it if we bring the problem
to their attention.  Other people may have but a single word in their
license that causes it to fail the DFSG, but they would sooner see the
world burn than budge.

Therefore, how "close" a work is to being DFSG-free is a poor
indicator of how much work it will be to get that work relicensed.

> Copyright (C) [1998] by Taylor French.  All rights reserved.  
> 
> dtx file also says 
> 
>    The usual GNU-style conditions apply: If you change it, you
>    take the blame; if you pass it on, pass on all present
>    conditions;"

I disagree with Thomas Bushnell on this point.  I don't think "the usual
GNU-style conditions" is enough footing to protect us legally from
charges of infringement by the aurhor, or from whoever may end up with
the copyright to this work.

With the above exception, I concur with Thomas's very thorough analysis.

Unfortunately, I think all of the documents mention are going to have to
be dropped from main until they can be relicensed in a way that is
harmonious with the DFSG.

-- 
G. Branden Robinson                |    I am sorry, but what you have
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    mistaken for malicious intent is
branden@debian.org                 |    nothing more than sheer
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    incompetence!     -- J. L. Rizzo II

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