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

On Mon, Aug 05, 2002 at 10:23:54PM +0200, Frank Mittelbach wrote:
> Branden Robinson writes:
>  > It would be trivially easy to circumvent computer checks.  What about
>  > case-sensitivity?  Can I trust a computer to catch ALL of the following
>  > uses of "TeX"?
> I'm talking of requiring that the work identifies itself by name via interface
> to other works (something that could be checked by a computer)

Such a requirement would, without question, be DFSG-non-free.

>  >  _____   __  __
>  > |_   _|__\ \/ /
>  >   | |/ _ \\  /
>  >   | |  __//  \
>  >   |_|\___/_/\_\
> lovely but beside the point. I'm not saying there isn'tsomething like a reason
> for a trademark or a nebulous "work name" that could be rendered in all kind
> of ways as you indicate,

Yes, this is the sort of thing trademarks were designed to protect.

> but there is also that work " the plain TeX format that is loaded into
> TeX via \input{plain}" 

That's a technological/functional restriction, and not something that
you can require and still be DFSG-free.

>  > Rather, what are contained in plain.tex and tex.web are works.  If I
>  > print these files out, the name of the file may not be present on the
>  > hardcopy.  That doesn't change the applicability of copyright one little
>  > bit.
> but it also doesn't change its interface identification to a TeX system.

That's true, and nothing in the DFSG implies that such a restriction on
modification is permitted.

>  > A filename restriction may be a simple way to implement a renaming
>  > requirement, but it isn't a DFSG-free way.
> som thought differently (as long as it is not a burden) I don't want to go
> into that here as my point is precisely that one can do without it indeed.

I've already stated that I disagree with what I've been told was RMS's
opinion.  In *my* opinion, the "burdensomeness" test can only be applied
to notices of modification that are designed for human consumption.
Restrictions to the functional aspects of a work are not allowed at all
under the DFSG.

> but neither does the work name achieve anything in itself. it is 
> BOTH BOTH BOTH the make it a whole


> my God ... :-) but who says that interpretation by computer is necessarily not
> for humans?

It doesn't have to be.  But users must be left free to frustrate the
computer's efforts to interpret the notice of modification, though they
can be required to ensure the notice of modification is still
discernible by humans.

>  > It is very much the topic.  Does Knuth regard it as an infringement of
>  > his rights in TeX, METAFONT, or the Computer Modern fonts if Debian
>  > changes some of the files comprising those works without changing the
>  > filenames...even if we rename our derived works to something other than
>  > "TeX", "METAFONT", or "Computer Modern"?
> i'm pretty sure he does. but he offers you plenty other possibilities to
> change his work(s)

If you're right, there is a DFSG-complaince problem.

>  > If he would, these works are not DFSG-free.  We won't force Knuth to
>  > take us to court to persuade us of his feelings.
> that is your opinion. it might be the opinion of Debian,

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

> it might not if it is you better check with Don if my assumption above
> is not farfetched (or perhaps somebody is able to find the reference
> to this font story with modified CM fonts) and then you move TeX to
> non-free and we can close this thread.

I regard TeX as important, but not more important than the spirit or
letter of the DFSG.

>  > I disagree, I think what is intended is a requirement to have the work
>  > identify itself with a different name through the interfaces with which
>  > it is interacting with a *human*.
> ultimatively acting with a human, but not necessarily at all directly.

The only mandatory restriction that is permitted by DFSG is change in
the name or version of the work as distributed.  The DFSG does not
permit the mandatory installation or retention of schemes of arbitrary
complexity for communicating this name or version change.

>  > It is *human* confusion that Knuth has sought to avoid, not confusion on
>  > the part of computers.  Strictly speaking, computers don't get confused.
>  > They do what they're told, or throw an exception.
> yes, but there are several layers of computer software mediating between start
> and human perception. 

The TeX engine is not a human's only means of inspecting a copyrighted

> anyway, assuming that you are right, is there a problem with that? would it be
> DSFG-nonfree to request it?

To request it, no.  To require it, yes.  Non-binding exhortations are
never forbidden by the DFSG.

>  > In my opinion the file renaming requirement is unnecessary.  I note that
>  > Boris just pointed out that "TeX", "METAFONT", and "Computer Modern" are
>  > all actual trademarks.
> but the individual font names are not, so if you think you are allowed to
> package your-nifty-little-fonts that unpack to cmr10.... then you do exactly
> what Don wishes you not to do.

Well, I hate to say this, but if Professor Knuth has a problem with me
doing the following:

$ cat > /usr/share/texmf/fonts/tfm/public/cm/cmr10.tfm

The Great American Novel
By G. Branden Robinson

	It was a dark and stormy night, but then it always was on the
Debian mailing lists.  The streets ran with blood as license lawyers
clashed over the latest technical dispute.  The ground periodically
thudded with the detonation of nuclear weaponry that was never distant
enough from one's location.
	But admidst it all, on the central street of a sprawling
metropolis where occasionally an unbroken length of disembodied human
intestine would tangle in one's legs, driven by the restless, crimson
current, one man stood, unshaken and undettered by the unremitting
violence.  A stillness heavy with the pregnancy of a Titan goddess fell
as he slowly raised his hand, palm forward, and uttered the declaration
that would indelibly redraw the battle lines:

...then I would be sorely disappointed.

>  > It sounds like everything that Knuth wants to do from a legal
>  > perspective can be -- and probably already is -- accomplished via
>  > trademark licenses on the terms "TeX", "METAFONT", and "Computer
>  > Modern".
> 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.

G. Branden Robinson                |      When dogma enters the brain, all
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      intellectual activity ceases.
branden@debian.org                 |      -- Robert Anton Wilson
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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