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

On Mon, Aug 05, 2002 at 10:11:18PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:

> My fellow Debian developers are generally not shy about letting me (or
> the whole world, for that matter) know when they disagree with me.

I think in this case the silence should be put down to ennui rather than
tacit agreement.

I think most of the rest of us are probably waiting to see what the next
LPPL draft turns out to be rather than making endless smalltalk about
TeX itself; if you guys are worried about the TeX license, I reckon it
might be more productive to get together and hash out a carefully-worded
document outlining your concerns to be put to the one man who can answer
authoritatively, or act to correct any deficiencies.

If you come up with a suitably tight document I'm sure that your concerns
will (eventually) be answered. But make it good, I've been waiting long
enough for the next volume of The Art of Computer Programming already...


> The only mandatory restriction that is permitted by DFSG is change in
> the name or version of the work as distributed.

Reading it, I think there is a degree of ambiguity in DFSG 4 regarding the
'name' to which it is referring. If we wish to be able to (ab)use this
ambiguity, then this is probably the kind of case in which we should do so.

If we do not, we should probably clarify DFSG4. Yes, I realise how, um,
interesting that process might be.

> > As i said before I seriously doubt that because, for example, he would not
> > want you to distribute a TeX program with fonts that yre not computer modern
> > but load as if they are (and i doubt that trademarks alone would prevent you
> > from that)
> You're probably right about trademarks being insufficient.  I'm not sure
> there is a way that goal can even be legally achieved, in full
> generality.  After all, it is conceivable that TeX could be
> reimplemented from scratch, and then even a DFSG-nonfree license on
> Knuth's TeX itself could not stop it.

The trademark license, like any other, could be arbitrarily complex. If it
required that you not distribute the TeX system in a distribution which could
result in non-cmr fonts being loaded as if they were cmr, then you would be
breach of that license agreement if you then went and did it. Of course your
friend might completely independently distribute an add-on that caused that
to happen -- large companies try tricks like this all the time, and lawyers
get rich on it.

In the reimplementation case, you could certainly produce something that
would be a drop-in replacement for TeX bar the fonts, but you could not
call it TeX. You could keep *all* the filenames, but you couldn't say in
your docs that it was TeX.

What am I missing?

Second thoughts, I'm not sure I want to know... ;)
Nick Phillips -- nwp@lemon-computing.com
Day of inquiry.  You will be subpoenaed.

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