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Re: Towards a new LPPL draft

On Tue, 2002-07-23 at 13:20, Frank Mittelbach wrote:
> Jeff Licquia writes:
>  > > The LaTeX Project is not collecting a bunch of seperate works and combines
>  > > them into LaTeX. It only provides 3 or 4 core parts of what is known to be
>  > > LaTeX as well as providing a license (LPPL) which helps to keep that thing
>  > > "LaTeX" uniform between different installations.
>  > 
>  > I see.  I was under the impression that what you distribute included
>  > lots of third-party stuff.
>  > 
>  > Debian is really only concerned here with the core license on the core
>  > parts of LaTeX.  If others within the LaTeX community don't like what
>  > you've done with the license, then they can add modification
>  > restrictions, and Debian can then decide to distribute them or not, or
>  > negotiate directly with them, or whatever.
> sorry, but we are not concerned only with the core stuff. even though we don't
> distribute the rest. The whole set of files put on ctan and identical (on a
> pristine LaTeX installation) is what makes LaTeX useful, not  their quality as
> such. So either we find a solution which keeps this intact (and we
> had found something with LPPL, though we are happy to reword it, to iron out
> mistakes in it that do not fit the intended meaning).

Well, I am confused, then.

When I talk about "LaTeX", I am talking about something with a specific
scope.  If, for example, the LPPL required that every file in /usr/bin
be renamed whenever something changes within LaTeX, that would be quite
blatantly non-free because of an overwide scope and high burden placed
on the user.

There is, I imagine, stuff that is not a part of LaTeX, but that works
with LaTeX.  That stuff may or may not be licensed under a particular
license.  That's immaterial to the question of whether LaTeX is free or

If you're asking Debian to always ship absolutely everything in CTAN as
a precondition to gaining modification rights to LaTeX, then that's
something that Debian can't offer.  We don't know how that software is
licensed, and can't guarantee that it will be free or not.

> but there is no point in providing a largely useless core (identical) and
> having all the rest happily return to the state of 1990 where no two site had
> identical LaTeX packages and thus document exchange turned out to be largely a
> matter of luck or sending whole latex package trees along with the document.
>  > But before we can deal with the add-ons, we need to deal with the core.
> no. sorry. if that is what only we are trying to do then I guess we have to
> give up.

Then you should take over the copyright from the other contributors, or
mandate that they accept the LPPL as you deliver it, or get everyone to
accept the LPPL voluntarily, or something.

You can't have it both ways.  If you treat add-ons outside your control
as "core" to LaTeX and allow them to be licensed arbitrarily, then you
must accept the fact that people like us will be forced by the licenses
to drop portions of it.  Otherwise, as has been pointed out before, the
LPPL could be a free license but LaTeX be non-free, because one file
within it has an unacceptable modification restriction.

Put another way: If you refuse to allow us to drop a non-free file, then
the whole of LaTeX gains a new license: the LPPL plus the conditions of
the single non-free file.  If you don't give us a way around that, then
your hard work getting the LPPL compliant can be invalidated by a single
person within the LaTeX community who gets a flight of fancy that
freedom isn't all that important.

>  > Please clarify something for me.  What are the .fst files?  Are they
>  > patches?
> if the nonLaTeX format supports the global remapping features
>  for .sty  files .fst files will be used if they exist
>  for .cls  files .fcl files will be used if they exist
>  and so on
> then the only thing that one has to do to fix any file under LPPL is to
> produce a modified version and name it .fst instead of do .sty and then
> nonLaTeX will use it. No need to copy huge trees of identical software 
> that was only rehashing why we think the suggested renaming together with the
> global remapping feature is fully complient with DSFG and easy to use

I see.

>  > The rights we demand are usually for special cases.  For example,
>  > someone might want to create LaTeX Plus with some of his/her new ideas
>  > for how document formatting should be done.  Or, you guys might get hit
>  > by a bus, and our obligation to our users requires us to make sure that
>  > LaTeX is taken care of in your absence while the Project figures out who
>  > should take over.  Or maybe no one wants to take over, and we maintain
>  > it as a legacy package (which we do for lots of the things we ship).
>  - if somebody wants to make LATeX plus he can already and it is simple and
>    can reuse all things untouched with the above method (and in fact is
>    already done, eg by Lambda
>  - if we get hit by a bus (which we hopefully are not) then the maintainers
>    clause would allow to have people take over without the need to start a new
>    fork
>  - if nobody wouldwant to takeover you could become maintainer (and support it
>    as a legacy package) again without the need to make a fork
> so there is no problem with the rights needed by Debian for a) its users nor
> for b) itself

As long as the rights in the DFSG are granted, then yes, you are

>  > OK.  Now I'd like to hear the Debian side.  Here are the conditions for
>  > modification that are being proposed as I understand them:
>  > 
>  >  - you must rename all modified files, or
>  > 
>  >  - you must rename the whole of LaTeX in your modified copy AND
>  > distribute a pristine copy of LaTeX as well.
>  > 
>  > Comments?  Branden, Walter, Mark, and Jeremy, I'm especially interested
>  > in your opinions, since you three are the current objectors.
> before anybody comments, please keep in mind that this has to work for
> the whole of LaTeX, eg something roughly of the size of tetex at least.
> The fork of course can be as small as it wish (even if it becomes useless this
> way).

It sounds like we would need to define the scope of LaTeX in this case.

>  > > Personally I think also we could go one step further (though others my call me
>  > > back): already provide two formats
>  > > 
>  > >  - pristine latex
>  > >  - nonportable-latex  (for the lack of a better name, for them moment)
>  > > 
>  > > where nonportable-latex is a latex-variant format that contains the
>  > > fileremapping feature builtin. Then then for each file type in pristine LaTeX
>  > > there would be a "shadow" file type that could be used to modify things to
>  > > your hearts wishes as long as you use the nonpartable-latex. if properly
>  > > drafted 
>  > > it could be assured by LPPL that shadow files can't be restricted from
>  > > modifying in place. would that help?
>  > 
>  > It sounds like this is a "subcase" of the case I mentioned above, where
>  > you can change the name of LaTeX and distribute a pristine LaTeX, but
>  > then can otherwise modify files without renames for not-LaTeX.  Let me
>  > know if I'm missing something.
> i think you missed something. With my suggestion the only thing one would need
> to do if one would want to modify (and distribute) any file under LPPL that
> falls under the filename rename requirenment is to copy it to its "shadow
> file" which could then be modified freely (without further restriction).
> And dueto the fact that we already provide the two formats nothing else would
> need  to be done.

This might be useful, but I'm not sure it satisfies the objections I've

>  > As I mentioned before, the fonts are in a limbo state while we figure
>  > out if we think data files should be required to meet the DFSG.  As for
>  > the rest of TeX, I suspect that this will be a future topic of
>  > discussion here.
> well, do you say that plain.tex is a data file? if that's the case how
> different is this from latex.ltx (which contains most of thecode in
> plain.tex)?
> because if thats the case then the whole of what is currently distributed
> under LPPL wouldn't make any problem any more as they would all be data
> files. :-) 

In one sense.  I don't think anyone disagrees that they contain active
content, though.

>  > But whatever the outcome for TeX, if LaTeX is deemed DFSG-free in the
>  > final analysis, you won't have that taken away from you if TeX is moved
>  > to non-free.
> no. whatever the outcome is for TeX, LaTeX will go with it at least if it is
> declared unfree because with TeX  not in the free tree of Debian, LaTeX there
> would be useless.

Not so.  "main" and "contrib" contain all DFSG-free software.  If TeX
moves to "non-free", then LaTeX would move to "contrib".

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