Preprints/Reprints of Academic Papers in Packages
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Many packages contain preprints or reprints of academic papers as
part of their documentation. In many cases, there is no
``source'' available for these documents -- they are distributed
as PostScript or PDF files.
Examples of packages that include such documents include (but are
certainly not limited to) bind-doc, cricket, ddd-doc, fastlink,
My feeling is that as ``historical documents'' -- frozen documents
describing some early state or underlayment of the software, and
not day-to-day documentation -- we shouldn't worry that much about
not having the source for these documents. Others may disagree,
believing that we need to have source for everything that we
In any case, I think that it would be useful to come to some
conclusion about whether or not it's okay to include such
documents in main at all, and, if so, under what conditions.
Some questions that occur to me include
1. If such a document is in a subdirectory of a GPLed program,
is that enough permission to distribute it, even if the
document itself has no distribution (or copyright)
information attached to it (or in a file in the same
2. Do we need a specific statement from the author(s) (or
original publisher) allowing us (and anyone else) to
distribute the document?
3. Do we need to build the document from source to feel
confident about distributing it?
4. If we actually do have source, are we allowed to create a
typeset version (DVI, PS, PDF) or some other form of
``compiled'' documentation (texi, HTML) and distribute that
without the source?
5. If an ``article'' or ``technical report'' really is the only
documentation for a program, should we try to get the author
to provide the source with a license that allows
modification -- keeping the original document(s) intact, as
historical records, but still allowing the documentation to
evolve as the program changes?
Anyway, just some ideas to kick around....
Man cannot be civilised, or be kept civilised by what he does in his
spare time; only by what he does as his work.
C.M. Connelly firstname.lastname@example.org SHC, DS
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