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Re: Revised LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL)

Barak Pearlmutter <barak@cs.may.ie> writes:

>> > Something like this:
>> > 
>> >     You must not cause files to misrepresent themselves as approved by
>> >     the official LaTeX maintenance group, or to misrepresent
>> >     themselves as perfectly compatible with such files (according to
>> >     compatibility criteria established by the official LaTeX
>> >     maintenance group).
>> does this ban
>> % This is not actually standard LaTeX, but we do this for ease of use:
>> \set{\latexversion}{standard}
>> The LaTeX people [...] want a ban on something which
>> programmatically interfaces in certain ways with Standard LaTeX.
>> The DFSG will accept a ban on making false claims of authorship to
>> humans, but not a ban on making such false claims to a program.
> Well, under the "misrepresentation" clause above, this would in fact
> be banned ... if its effect were to misrepresent the file as standard
> LaTeX, and the comment were just a subterfuge.

The comment is the truth; the code is purely functional.

Would it make it less of a misrepresentation if the comment produced
output to the screen that this wasn't Standard LaTeX?

> Whether this is the case would depend on the context.  But if
> something like that ended up fooling people about whether it was
> standard, then it certainly would be a misrepresentation!

The goal isn't to fool people, it's to fool the machine.  Given what
Mittelbach and Carlisle have been writing, I think they understand and
are willing to give that permission... it's just a matter of phrasing
it properly.

> On the other hand, my impression is that the LaTeX people would be
> okay with such a file if (in context) there was care being taken to
> not fool anyone (accidentally or deliberately) into thinking that what
> was running was standard LaTeX, and the line of code were the just a
> technical means to get something to run, eg with some modified
> non-standard proprietary engine.

Yes.  That's a great example of what the draft LPPL prohibits, but
which is necessary for the pieces of LaTeX to be free software.

> In other words, I suspect that what is really going on is a question
> of INTENT, and subsequent effect.  In this light, maybe the reason the
> LaTeX people are having such problems crafting a clear simple license
> is that at root they want to ban something based on intent, but (being
> computer programmers) they're trying to implement this by writing more
> and more complicated rules related to mechanism, and getting more and
> more specific to their particular implementation.
> I've CC'ed this to a LaTeX person - any comments from the LaTeX crowd?

Brian T. Sniffen                                        bts@alum.mit.edu

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