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

Boris Veytsman <borisv@lk.net> writes:

> I do NOT think that Debian really wishes to do this or to change
> LaTeX. My understanding it that they want to have a *right* to do
> this, but do not wish to exercise this right. The argument between
> Thomas and me was exactly this: Thomas thinks that he has a legal
> right to do this and does not exercise it only out of deference to
> Knuth. He would like LaTeX people to do the same: allow people to do
> change article.sty as a matter of principle, but politely ask them not
> to. Thomas, is this a correct understanding of your position?

In fact, everyone does, in fact, modify TeX before installing it.
Nobody, in fact, installs an unmodified TeX.  This is a central fact
massively ignored by so many that I have to say it in each post,
rather like Cato and Carthage, until you will finally notice it and
acknowledge its implications.

I don't want *linux* to have a particular right.  I want all the users
of the software--all of them--even those not yet alive--to have this
right, for the very simple reason that we have absolutely know way to
predict their needs. 

> To say the truth, it is amusing to see the contortions Thomas must
> suffer to defense the idea that "TeX is more free than LaTeX". When a
> copyright notice does not agree with him, he cites Knuth's writings
> and says that Knuth does not know how to write licenses, but his
> writings show his intent. 

Not at all.  I agree with all the *actual* copyright notices and legal
permission files on Knuth's actual source.  His own interpretations,
and those of "the TeX community" are, it seems, wildly at variance
with the *actual* text of those documents.

> When Knuth's writings do not agree, he says
> that the writings are irrelevant, but legal notices are important. I
> personally think that the issue is clear: Knuth lucidly explained that
> (1) he has the right to request the filename change under his
> copyright notice; (2) in this particular case of Slackware violation
> he does not want to defend this right legally because of his respect
> to Linux people; (3) rather he wants the community to exercise the
> peer pressure. He never says he abandons or waives this right or that
> he would not consider other means of defense if the violator is
> somebody else. This is how I understand his words; if Thomas thinks I
> am misguided and ignorant here, let it be so.

But is this a legal right he wants?  Or a strong suggestion?  An
indication of "best practice"?  I have no clue.  But I interpret it as
the latter, because of numbers (2) and (3), because I place preference
on the actual text of the licenses rather than Knuth's apparent
misunderstandings of them.

For example, in the CM fonts case, the people were clearly breaking
the rules attached to those files, which require modifications to the
source to carry a different filename.  That in itself was a
violation.  I believe that there is no restriction on the names of the
output files (for the simple reason that the actual license never
mentions one), and since trademark cannot cover functional elements
(such as filenames), that means that Slackware was actually within its
rights in distributing confusingly named font metric and bitmap

Now, this was a stupid thing for them to do *anyway*.  But how on
earth can you convince me that it would be a stupid thing to do in the
year 2163?  

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