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Re: forwarded message from Jeff Licquia

On Wed, 2002-07-17 at 10:32, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 17, 2002 at 02:44:19PM +0100, David Carlisle wrote:
> > I agree that anyone should be free to modify latex in any way and
> > distribute that modification. I just don't agree that they should leave
> > my email address at the top as the place where people should report
> > bugs, and I don't agree that they should call the software by the same
> > name, so as to deliberately trick users who believe they are using one
> > piece of software into using a different piece of software.

That's totally fine.

I believe it was Frank who pointed out that there is a process for
forking LaTeX that involves pulling the name of the LaTeX Project and
LaTeX out of various places in the code.  If that process were described
in the license, or explicitly named as an acceptable procedure to get
around the file naming problem, I think Debian's complaints about the
license would evaporate.

> > As a matter of fact we did read the DFSG while drafting the original
> > version 1 of the LPPL. I believed then and still believe now that it is
> > compatible. Nothing in any of the multitude of threads has shown
> > any real bar on LPPL being DFSG compatible. Some minor wording issues
> > that Frank has been addressing, but nothing in principle.
> > What has been clear is that some people at Debian don't like clause 4
> > and are trying to force licences that do not require that clause.

As an aside: I'm not sure that this is important.  Whatever happens in
the future, DFSG 4 is there now, and we can't fault people for using
it.  The status of LaTeX concerning DFSG 4 will be a data point if/when
the proposal comes up to remove it, and may affect enough developer
votes to cause the proposal to fail.  Or, it may not.

> Speaking in the abstract, and in light of the fact that TeX macros *as
> installed on the system* can be considered source code, I believe that
> the desire to prevent people from using the same name for modified
> versions of macro files is compatible with the DFSG, possibly even
> without the benefit of DFSG 4. 

I'm not sure I agree.

Let's take a look at it from a different perspective.  What happens when
someone does something like this in their LaTeX document?


(Sorry if I screwed that up; I'm not a regular LaTeX user.)

If the license prevents us from modifying the behavior of LaTeX *under
any circumstances* when a document does that, then it seems to me that
the license is not free.

Another example: Suppose the Python module "foo" has a similar
restriction.  Is it really free to claim that "foo" is free when I
cannot fix a bug in "foo" and have that bug fix work in all the programs
on my system that "import foo"?

Yet another example: Would we consider it acceptable to rename "ls" to
"lsf" (for "ls fixed") as a legal requirement for fixing a bug in it?

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