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Re: Bug#153257: TeX Licenses & teTeX (Was: Re: forwarded message from Jeff Licquia)

On Mon, 5 Aug 2002 11:10:12 -0500, Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> wrote:
>On Mon, Aug 05, 2002 at 09:53:20AM -0600, Julian Gilbey wrote:
>> On Mon, Aug 05, 2002 at 09:33:37AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
>> > I repeat: the file renaming requirement is not DFSG-free, and you
>> > wanting it to be so will not make it so.  DFSG 4 does not permit it.
>>   4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code
>>      The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in
>>      modified form _only if the license allows the distribution of
>>      "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying
>>      the program at build time.  The license must explicitly permit
>>      distribution of software built from modified source code.
>>      *** The license may require derived works to carry a different
>>      name or version number from the original software. ***
>>      (This is a compromise. The Debian group encourages all authors to
>>      not restrict any files, source or binary, from being modified.)
>> Note the ***...*** section.
>The license may require derived *** works *** to carry a different name
>or version number from the original software.
>Note the ***...*** section.
>A filename is not the name of a work any more than an MD5 checksum is.

Your whole argument rests on this interpretation of "name" in the third
sentence of DFSG:4 as meaning "name used to legally identify", correct? And
the only tangible support you have for this interpretation is the presence
in that sentence of the word "work", which is (amongst many other things) a
legal term. All the rest is, despite its verbosity, merely an expression
for "you[1] wanting it to be so".

I suggest that this interpretation of "name" here is at best an implausible
one. For one thing the word "name" has a number of interpretations, as it
is a very general term. If your legalistic interpretation really was all
that the author(s) of the DFSG had in mind there then wouldn't "title" had
been a much more natural choice? I strongly suspect that "title" _is_ the
proper legal term.

My main objection to your interpretation is however that "name" is used in
parallel to "version number", which is a much more precise term. "version
number" is not a legal term -- the legal term would probably rather be
"edition" -- but something very practical and technical in nature. It is
furthermore the case that version numbers often have a functional purpose.
Programs regularly inspect and interpret the version numbers of other
programs, and they may behave quite differently depending on what version
numbers they find. Admittedly this may be uncommon in the world of C
programs, where communication between different programs is quite an
endeavour, but it is common practice for packages that get loaded into an
interpreter and the LaTeX way of reacting to version numbers is definitely
not the most restrictive in this area.

Thus for any restriction you want to impose on what DFSG-free licenses may
require in the area of renaming, consistency requires you to impose the
same restriction with respect to version numbers. Take the example that a

  % Copyright 2002 M. Y. Name
  % The foobar package ... license ...
  \ProvidesPackage{foobar}[2002/06/01 v1.00]

is licensed so that modified versions must be renamed, e.g.

  % Copyright 2002 M. Y. Name, A. N. Other
  % The newfoobar package ... license ...
  \ProvidesPackage{newfoobar}[2002/07/02 v1.00]

If you think such a license is non-free because the newfoobar in the first
argument of \ProvidesPackage is "functional" then it would be inconsistent
to not declare as non-free also a license that only requires a version
number change, e.g.

  % Copyright 2002 M. Y. Name, A. N. Other
  % The newfoobar package ... license ...
  \ProvidesPackage{foobar}[2002/07/02 v2.00]

since this new version number would still be "functional". If you restrict
renaming to instances where the name cannot be reliably checked by computer
then you must put a similar restriction on version numbers. However I don't
believe that "appearing in a comment somewhere in the source, while being
contradicted in the code" is the normal interpretation of "carrying a
version number" in the community that has to interpret the DFSG.

Lars Hellström

[1] On a completely off-topic matter, shouldn't that rather be "your
wanting it to be so", with a possesive pronoun and the -ing form of the
verb? Perhaps someone natively English-speaking can clarify this; I suspect
it could be a matter on the lines of who vs. whom.

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