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Re: Revised LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL)

On Mon, Apr 07, 2003 at 11:08:37PM +0200, Frank Mittelbach wrote:
> for the sake of an argument, what about 
>  1. You must make your modified package output to the screen a message
>     that it isn't the original package
>  2. If the environment where your modified package is intended to be
>     used provides a documented standard way of emitting such messages
>     without making any other processing changes, you must use that.
> i don't think the wording is good, but that aside, would that lift your
> concern?

Mandating technologies in license documents really rubs me the wrong
way.  The nice(?) thing about legal language is that you can use broad
terms to say what you mean, and as long as your meaning is clear and
unambiguous, the people are affected by it.  By being as specific as you
are, I think you're making it *more* likely, not less, than someone will
find and exploit a loophole in your carefully constructed license

Why not say something like:

"If you distribute modified copies of the work, you must ensure that its
modified status is clearly, unambiguously, and obviously communicated to
users of the work."?

There.  The burden's on them, not you.  If they get too clever and
sneaky, this clause is there to catch them and make them liable to you
for copyright infringement.  The easiest way for them to
comply with this requirement is with your suggestion (2) above.
Otherwise, they'd better do (1).  But saying what you want instead of
how exactly you want it done is, I think, a superior approach.  After
all, someone could go with approach (1) and then instantly issue the
terminal control sequence for clearing the screen; hey, *technically*
they'd be in compliance with the license.

You can describe the various ways in which a person might comply with
the license requirement in an adjunct document ("How to Use This
License").  But I sincerely and strongly feel that the license should
stick to the legal issues and avoid the technological ones as far as

State your requirements clearly, and make the *modifier* worry about how
to satisfy them.

That's my two cents...

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     Music is the brandy of the damned.
branden@debian.org                 |     -- George Bernard Shaw
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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