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

Branden Robinson writes:
 > 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.

but Don hasn't put his work out as a whole with a license but has put
copyright notices and comments into individual files, for example, tex.web
starting out as

% This program is copyright (C) 1982 by D. E. Knuth; all rights are reserved.
% Copying of this file is authorized only if (1) you are D. E. Knuth, or if
% (2) you make absolutely no changes to your copy. (The WEB system provides
% for alterations via an auxiliary file; the master file should stay intact.)

or  cmr10.mf


or from plain.tex (no copyright notice there and a somewhat contradictory
statement if looked at it in isolation)

% This is the plain TeX format that's described in The TeXbook.
% N.B.: A version number is defined at the very end of this file;
%       please change that number whenever the file is modified!
% And don't modify the file under any circumstances.

etc. in addition he has explained his understanding of what he gave to the
world and how he gave it, many times and that does not only involves the names "TeX" or "METAFONT"
or "COMPUTER MODERN" but also that, if you run TeX on a simple document containing


then what is loaded is cmr10.tfm and precisely "THE cmr10 from Computer
Modern" and not some modified copy. There had in fact be a huge uproar (by Don) once
when somebody changed the CM fonts and distributed them under the original font

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

at-will revocation of a license might violate anything, point is that in the
past there hasn't been a real license  --- and what i was trying to
communicate are the intentions behind it.

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

I can't assert anything and I will not, i can only interpret how I interpret
what Don said to me and to others in private and in public. To my best believe
Don's intentions are file name based or more exactly interface based, eg on a
system that runs TeX \input{plain} is loading a file plain.tex which is his
plain.tex and not somebody elses, and the above paragraphs (to me) also says
this with respect to fonts, ie

  "And nobody is allowed to use the
   names of the Computer Modern fonts 

[note the plural, he means cmr10 cmr11 ...]

  in Volume~E for any fonts that do not
  produce identical {\tt.tfm} files.

what he wants to prevent is that TeX picks up some cmr10.tfm if it isn't the
original one, again the point isn't really the file name it is the work "The
font CMR10" (which ends up being a file name restriction on most OS's)

I'm however not going to proxy for Don even though I too wouldn't wish to see
him interrupted in his other work.  But I don't think that anybody but him can
in fact clarify this finally and it seems that such clarification is necessary.

As far as I can see, the interpreation that I gave (as well as Boris and
others) is broader than the interpretation that only the words TeX, METAFONT
and Computer Modern are at Don's heart. So if Debian are accepting this
broader interpretation (which in fact is the interface/filename restriction)
Debian use that as a starting point to come to a conclusion what that means
concerning DSFG.

If  Debian concludes that it means that all of Don's work is not DSFG-free then
perhaps you better talk to him directly, assuming that that outcome is not in
Debian's interest (after all that would then be only because people like me
say that we interpret him in this way).


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