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Re: Motivations; proposed alternative license (was Re: LaTeX PublicProject License, Version 1.3 (DRAFT))

On Mon, Jul 15, 2002 at 11:45:52PM +0200, Frank Mittelbach wrote:
> I don't have a proposition for that. but LPPL wasn't written originally (or
> ever) to enforce things legally, it was written to codify what the majority of
> the LATeX community understood as an important set of goals

Uh, well, in that case I suggest drafting a Statement of Principles.
The entire raison d'etre of a copyright license is to "enforce things
legally".  Perhaps you should contrain the LPPL's scope to whatever ends
you want to achieve with that means.

> but again, there is one major miss-statement in your sentence.  we don't
> restrict people from modifying files, we only ask them to do it in a way that
> is helps everybody (including them in the long run).

A requirement to rename *is* a restriction.

> the fact that in the "free software world" but outside LaTeX the importance
> of the goals aren't seen, as well as the fact that codifying those goals
> improved the situation within the LaTeX community a lot makes us believe that
> our approach in that particular situation is better.

You're certainly entitled to that belief, but sympathy doesn't render a
license "free" under the Debian Free Software Guidelines; only its terms
can do so.

> i understand that there are a large number of people (who work with other type
> of free software) that do not like the fact that we preserve some rights of
> the users of LaTeX

Can you enumerate what rights of the user you are preserving by
forbidding them from distributing modified files without changing the

> It is certainly (a bit) more work to rename a file rather than to
> simply change it, but while I concur with you that for stuff which is
> essentially local to my environment this is fine (and thus something
> like GPL or whatever is appropriate) for the benefit of LaTeX as a
> freely extensible and changeable system for exchange of information it
> is not.

I hope you'll agree with me that this statement is a subjective analysis.

>  > Requirements of notification of modification in original source code and
>  > in program diagnostic output are perfectly acceptable under the DFSG;
>  > badging or watermarking the generated document while forbidding the
>  > removal of same would not be.
> sorry, you lost me. what exactly is there that would not be acceptable?

Asserting intellectual property right in the output of LaTeX would not
be acceptable[1].  Such an assertion would be logically required if you
put some indicator of modified-LaTeX status into users' output and
forbade them from removing that indicator.

(This is not the same thing as requiring preservation of modification
notices within a LaTeX source file, upon which the LaTeX Project
presumably does have a copyright.)

>  > There may be other means of notifying the user that he's running a
>  > hot-rodded component; we'd be more than happy to work with you to think
>  > of some.
> if you manage to do that I would have no qualms to change to different system
> or license, but not if that means the user has to read through potentially
> thousand of source files to find a file that makes his document work
> differently on his site than on others.

I'm sure there are lots of ways.  One possibility that springs to mind
that would not run afoul of the DFSG would be to require the existence
of a "flag file" in modified distributions of LaTeX.  The LaTeX engine
could look for this file at some convenience stage in its execution and
spew a warning to standard output or standard error[2].  I'm not a very
sophisticated TeX user, but I'm in the habit of reading the warnings it
gives me.  I've learned to ignore overfull and underfull hboxes, but
maybe real TeXperts have such self-confidence that they ignore
everything.  :)  In any event, it's the user's responsibility to read
the output the program gives him.

[1] In the general case; this is of course not true when LaTeX is used
to output, say, its own source code.

[2] You could not forbid people from removing the code that searched
for this flag file without violating clause 3 of the DFSG, but the
requirement of the existence of the "flag file" in distributions of
LaTeX would be unaffected, and it is pretty easy to tell people how to
find such a file without involving the LaTeX executable.

G. Branden Robinson                |     Communism is just one step on the
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     long road from capitalism to
branden@debian.org                 |     capitalism.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- Russian saying

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