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

On Fri, Aug 09, 2002 at 11:49:00PM -0400, Boris Veytsman wrote:
> Thomas, I'd be grateful if you do not consider my reply as an
> attack. It is a friendly observation. You see, I've been in your
> shoes. 
> You know, I have been in company of great talents. Several times I had
> a honor to talk to the people I considered geniuses. You would be
> surprised, but they often sounded strange, incoherent, ignorant or
> plainly foolish. I had a great temptation to consider myself smarter
> than they -- this was my secret pleasure at that time. Only much later
> did I understand that it was *I* who was stupid. You see, they saw
> what I saw -- and much more. Their thoughts were too profound for me
> to understand. What I saw as a stupid answer to my question was
> actually a wise answer to another question -- the one I should ask,
> but was too stupid at that time to even think about.
> Now you are tempted to consider Knuth to be ignorant -- worse, to be
> an evidently stupid person who does not realize he is ignorant and
> pontificates about things he has no business to talk about. Well,
> since it is established that Knuth is a great talent or maybe even a
> genius, this conclusion is highly improbable. If I were you, I'd
> consider a much more probable interpretation. Namely, that Knuth
> perfectly KNOWS what he is talking about -- but his thoughts are too
> profound to be understood without some work.

This line of reasoning will not fly.

There is considerable legal precendent regarding how licenses are
worded. You can't say one thing and later claim you mean another; the
court will interpret only what the license _says_, and they will
interpret it according to established conventions. They may take other
remarks of the author into account if the meaning is not clear, but
only if the meaning is not clear. Phrases like "public domain" are
extremely clear.

Word games do not stand up in court.

People who write legal documents (such as licenses) are asserting, by
the simple act of writing such documents, that they know how to word
them correctly. The court will interpret them under this
assumption. (Likewise, you cannot sign a contract and later claim you
did not understand it - by signing it you have implicitly asserted
that you _do_ understand its meaning).

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ | Dept. of Computing,
 `. `'                          | Imperial College,
   `-             -><-          | London, UK

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