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Re: TeX Licenses & teTeX (Was: Re: forwarded message from Jeff Licquia)

> Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2002 01:54:02 -0500
> From: Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>

> These statements are in tension.  If Professor Knuth asserts the latter,
> he logically *cannot* be asserting the former.
> Knuth is asserting his copyright to impose the restrictions described
> above; therefore TeX, METAFONT, and Computer Modern are not in the
> public domain.
> Even, I'm afraid, if Professor Knuth says they are.

I cannot claim to understand *all* intricacies of Don's great brain,
but I always understood his intentions with respect to TeX and friends
in the following way:

1. As a true CS professor, Knuth distinguishes between the program
   (i.e. the code of the program) and the name of the program (file
   name of the code for systems with file naming conventions).

2. The code is in the public domain. Anybody can do anything with it.

3. The associated set of names is *not*. 

I share this inderstanding with the developers of derivatives of
Knuth's work like pdfTeX, EC fonts etc: they freely used fragments of
Don's code but changed the names. Since their work is endorsed by
Knuth (he sent a nice letter to Han The Thanh's thesis committee, for
example), it is probably an adequate understanding.

Whether these conditions are DGSG-free or not, is a subject of a
heated discussion on the debian-legal. My personal opinion is that
either they are or, if not, they should be grandfathered: TeX used to
be the greatest example of free software for decades, and it would be
a shame to lose this.

Good luck


Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.
- Mark Twain

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