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

Boris Veytsman <borisv@lk.net> writes:

> Thomas, you rightly say that only Debian can interpret DFSG. While I
> agree with you in that, it seems that now you want to have the power
> to interpret the word "free". This is, in my opinion, a far-fetched
> idea. TeX community used the word "free" for decades. The example of
> TeX was one of the sources of inspiration for RMS and FSF, which, in
> its turn, inspired Debian project. TeX is the grandfather of the free
> software community. If it is not enough free for you, this is your
> problem. If it is not free enough for being DFSG-free, I would think
> it is a problem of Debian, not of a problem of TeX.

Right.  TeX is free.  But you have totally misunderstood TeX's
licensing conditions, which are amazingly transparently so easy to
understand--as written--and you are trying to figure out what they are
"designed to achieve" and then rewrite the conditions such that they
achieve whatever you think the "goals" of those conditions are.

That your description of the goals would make TeX nonfree is evidence
that you either don't understand the license, or the goals, or both.

Which is no sin.  I already suggested that the various LaTeX folks in
this discussion have shown themselves so unable to understand TeX's
*actual* distribution conditions, that their further contributions are

> David Carlisle: if TeX is not free enough for you, I'd prefer my works
> released under LPPL to be moved to non-free secton rather than to
> butcher the license and sacrifice the goal of creating a permanent
> document exchange standard.

Ah, but TeX *is* free enough for me.  If the LaTeX conditions allowed
what the TeX conditions allow, I'd be entirely happy.

> I am not a lawyer, so I cannot claim understanding of intricacies of
> licenses. 

Then *please* stop trying to help us!  The people you are talking to
have really quite *vast* experience in understanding the intricacies
of free software licensing.

> However, I think I understand Knuth's lucid writings about
> his intentions with respect to TeX. He many times said that he wants
> that after his death TeX version number is frozen at pi, and MF number
> frozen at e, and absolutely no change is made to them thereafter. It
> is evident for me that he does not want TeX to be gradually improved;
> rather he visions completely new systems based on TeX ideas and
> code. He wants TeX to be his monument -- these are his exact
> words. 

Right.  But I still get to create something which is a patched TeX (as
long as the patches are in separate files), and then I get to install
that thing as a command called "tex".  It even gets to identify itself
as "tex", as long as it doesn't violate the trademark.  

Now before you say that any modification means you can't use the
trademark, note that this would be *wrong*, because, in fact, such
patched modification is *absolutely standard*.  And therefore, the
actual conditions for use of the trademark are that the person using
it be happy with the system as being "TeX", and that the system
successfully pass the trip test.

> I think now that you convinced me. LaTeX *should* be trademarked, and
> the trademark use license should require "rename if you change" rule
> for BOTH kernel and the independent works if they are released under
> (revised) LPPL. Hope lawyers can explain whether this is possible. 

Yes, but note that you *cannot* restrict functional elements by
trademark.  Since filenames are *certainly* functional elements, you
cannot restrict them by trademark.  

You can restrict the name of the software, but *not* its filename, if
you are relying on trademark.


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