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Re: User's thoughts about LPPL

On Wed, Jul 17, 2002 at 11:23:17AM +0100, David Carlisle wrote:

> Some people have suggested that latex should allow arbitrary changes but
> only allow the name "latex" to be used if the resulting program meets
> some published interface. That is fine for a compiled program which can
> implement a published interface via an implementation that isn't seen by
> the application. However it is a technical non starter for a macro
> language. If you change latex in _any_ way, adding \relax to any
> definition then the observable behaviour of the program will alter.
> So for a macro language saying that it meets some published interface is
> equivalent to saying that no changes have been made at all.

I think you are mistaken. You are assuming that the engine used to process
those macros will also not be changed; it would be quite possible to change
LaTeX in such a way that it produced identical output from all valid LaTeX
input whilst adding other functionality, if you modified it to use
<some-modified-thing-that's-no-longer-quite-TeX> "under the hood".

Why should this not be allowed?

> You simply can not do that for LaTeX. A different implementation will
> implement a different language. That is just the way TeX works.

Not true. Maybe not *usefully* false, but the original creator of a work is
often the last person who should be judging in what ways it may be useful.

If your intention is to ensure that anything called LaTeX produces identical
output to the then-current "official" implementation, then apply Occam's
Razor and say that.

If you are happy for people to take the code and do anything they like with
it (bar distributing a functionally incompatible version described as
"LaTeX"), then why not keep things simple and say so -- allow all kinds of
modification and distribution in the license, but control a "LaTeX" trademark
in such a way that no-one can distribute incompatible versions.

This would probably be more appropriately performed via an entity set up
to manage the development and maintenance of LaTeX - a "LaTeX Foundation"
or similar. The constitution etc. of that organisation would decide how
responsibilities for maintaining the "official" version were delegated,
removing all the messy bits about maintainers etc. from the LaTeX license.

And everybody would live happily ever after. We hope.

I'd have thought that the solution above would be a more appropriate way
to handle the question of "so, what happens if the maintainer goes AWOL?"
in any case -- there would be an entity dedicated to looking after LaTeX,
no matter what misfortunes befell individuals working on the project.

If setting up a whole new body to perform this task is more than you are
willing or able to undertake, then you might consider asking one of the
existing similar bodies, such as the ASF or SPI to take on this role.


Nick Phillips -- nwp@lemon-computing.com
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

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