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

On Mon, Aug 05, 2002 at 11:47:59AM +0200, Frank Mittelbach wrote:
> It did however happen, several times by individuals and that was all I was
> referring to. Perhaps you missed those posts which wouldn't be surprising
> given the number of posts on the whole subject. For example
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/debian-legal-200207/msg00318.html 
> Where Thomas said:
> > What Don Knuth says is really quite irrelevant.  If he's given
> > permission to use the name (which tripman sure looks like), then it's
> > that permission that matters, even if he later regrets his
> > carelessness.
> This type of argument chain showed up several times during the discussions and
> I wanted to express my feeling that it would not be a good position to put up.
> I had no intention to imply that this is my understanding of the general
> policy of the Debian Project and I don't really think that I did. 
> So please check also with ourself if  "troll", "careless", "spiteful" are the
> right words in the circumstances.

What Thomas says is true.  If the copyright license that Professor Knuth
placed on TeX, METAFONT, and the Computer Modern font are revocable at
will (as opposed to merely for non-compliance), then these are not
DFSG-free works.

Such at-will revocation of a license would violate DFSG 1, 2, 3, 7, and
arguably 5.

Whether this has in fact happened with TeX, METAFONT, or Computer
Modern, I will leave to those more familiar with the licensing history
to determine.

Is it your assertion that we can take Professor Knuth at his word when
he said "anybody can make use of my programs [presumably TeX, MF, and
Computer Modern] in whatever way they wish, as long as they do not use
the names \TeX, \MF, or Computer Modern. In particular, any person or
group who wants to produce a program superior to mine is free to do so.
However, nobody is allowed to call a system \TeX\ or \MF\ unless that
system conforms 100\%\ to my own programs, as I have specified in the
manuals for the trip and trap tests. And nobody is allowed to use the
names of the Computer Modern fonts in Volume~E for any fonts that do not
produce identical {\tt.tfm} files. This prohibition applies to all
people or machines, whether appointed by TUG or by any other

If not, what license do you assert *actually* applies to these works?

G. Branden Robinson                |     You don't just decide to break
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     Kubrick's code of silence and then
branden@debian.org                 |     get drawn away from it to a
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     discussion about cough medicine.

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