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the LPPL and DFSG 4's patch clause

[RMS removed from CC list]

On Tue, Sep 16, 2003 at 03:21:27PM -0700, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:
> > Yes, there are gray areas where it is hard to decide.  I had to think
> > for months about whether the TeX license qualified as free, since it
> > makes the whole of the original TeX source code invariant.  And I had
> > to think for weeks about a LaTeX license, that required changing the
> > name of any file that you modify.  I eventually concluded that LaTeX
> > was free despite this requirement, but only because it has a remapping
> > feature that lets you say "Use file myfoo.sty when the document asks
> > for foo.sty".
> We have come to basically exactly the same conclusion about these
> cases.

Not true.  We reached the conclusion that a requirement to rename files
was a functional, technological restriction (as opposed to a legal
restricition like "rename the copyrighted work"), and asked the LaTeX
Project to remove that restriction[1] from the LPPL.  It is in fact gone
in the latest draft of the LPPL which they submitted to us in July.

You'll have to go back approximately a year to find this discussion,
though; it was taken off-list for several months while Jeff Licquia
worked with Frank Mittelbach and some other folks from the LaTeX

> The DFSG says that we must have the right to modify everything, at
> least by the use of patch files.

Yes, but I'd plan for a future where that's not the case, as the
exercise of that escape clause causes us to ship non-free materials in
source packages, even in main.  I *personally* think that's a bad idea.

[1] More precisely, we said we didn't think we could accept the LPPL as
    a DFSG-free license if it retained that restriction; as far as I can
    tell, we have always respected the right of the LaTeX Project to put
    whatever they like in their license document(s).

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |           //     // //  /     /
branden@debian.org                 |           EI 'AANIIGOO 'AHOOT'E
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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