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Re: Revised LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL)

Frank Mittelbach <frank.mittelbach@latex-project.org> writes:

> Branden Robinson writes:
>  > Mandating technologies in license documents really rubs me the wrong
>  > way.  
> I'm not too happy about it either, but ...
>  > 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.
> folks, all I see so far is that your broad terms do not take into account our
> main concern, but only your concerns about how you view the world. That is
> fine, but it doesn't bring us much further.  At least some of you will
> hopefully acknowledge that I tried and try very hard to fullfil your concerns
> while maintaing ours.

Absolutely.  I'm pleased the LaTeX and Debian projects are working so
closely on this.

> If you are prepared to think about how broad legal terms can unambiguous
> prevent our concern of becoming a reality then I'm all for not being too
> specific in places. Otherwise I can only say that the earlier draft had a very
> simple clear and legal term (if you change it change its name) that the
> majority (I wont dare to speak for everybody) of the LaTeX community was and
> is happy with.

And my understanding is that Debian is happy with a requirement that
the name of a work be changed.  The requirement that the fourth
dir_entry field be changed is something entirely different.

Given the disagreement -- those who've been part of the LaTeX
project's work on the LPPL have all gotten around to accepting "name
of the work" and "filename" as synonyms, and most other people haven't
-- maybe you weren't using it as a simple, clear term.

>  > 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
>  > document.
> that is a danger, I agree, and again it would be nice if you can suggest a
> phrasing that is "clear and unambiguous", but I don't see that this
>  > 
>  > 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."?
> actually fulfills this goal. At least not as long "unambiguously, and
> obviously" is not further qualified. I'm sure there are people claiming that
> the above will clearly allow to put a comment somewhere (for example at the
> top of some file), saying that the file is modified,

I disbelieve.  I cannot accept this statement until you produce even a
single programmer capable of substantial changes to LaTeX and who
believes that a comment in the source is a clear, unambiguous, and
obvious communication to users of modLaTeX.

I don't believe such a person exists.  And even if they do -- there
are certainly people who've violated the FSF's licenses through
foolishness or poor understanding -- a quick note informing them that
they're doing the wrong thing and suggesting ways to fix it has always
been enough so far.


Brian T. Sniffen                                        bts@alum.mit.edu

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