[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: The license of LaTeX2HTML

On Sat, Oct 25, 2003 at 10:20:26PM +0200, Roland Stigge wrote:
> [... disclaimer ...]
> Use and copying of this software and the preparation of derivative
> works based on this software are permitted, so long as the following
> conditions are met:
> A  The copyright notice and this entire notice are included intact
>    and prominently carried on all copies and supporting documentation.
> B  No fees or compensation are charged for use, copies, or
>    access to this software. You may charge a nominal
>    distribution fee for the physical act of transferring a
>    copy, but you may not charge for the program itself.

This is non-free. It is also GPL-incompatible.

> C  If you modify this software, you must cause the modified
>    file(s) to carry prominent notices (a Change Log)
>    describing the changes, who made the changes, and the date
>    of those changes.
> D  Any work distributed or published that in whole or in part
>    contains or is a derivative of this software or any part
>    thereof is subject to the terms of this agreement. The
>    aggregation of another unrelated program with this software
>    or its derivative on a volume of storage or distribution
>    medium does not bring the other program under the scope
>    of these terms.
> [... disclaimer ...]
> ======================================================================
> The point is that point B seems to violate DFSG point 1, since  "The
> license of a Debian component may not restrict any party from selling or
> giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software
> distribution containing programs from several different sources. The
> license may not require a royalty or other fee for such sale." 
> Upstream doesn't want to change the license himself after 2 weeks of
> intense discussion. At least, the University of Leeds would have to be
> asked about changes, because the original authors worked there 10 years
> ago, when the latex2html project was. That would require at least the
> time of a complete Debian release cycle and would have to be really
> convincing. My suggestion was to apply the GPL or any other OSI-approved
> license.

Note that some OSI-approved licenses (notably the RPSL and the APSL) are
non-free. The one you suggested (the LPPL) has had some notorious
problems in the past. Whether it is acceptable now, I don't know [0].

> Additionally, the upstream maintainer, Ross Moore, isn't convinced about
> my point because he doesn't understand why Debian would be that greedy
> and claim money for latex2html where it at least could claim it for the
> rest of the distribution. But my interpretation of DFSG.1 is clear. His
> opinion was that point D already allows Debian to ship the package in
> "main", but I don't agree with that.

Debian is not greedy. In fact, Software in the Public Interest (Debian's
parent corporation, since Debian is prohibited from holding assets of
any kind) is not-for-profit corporation. But if someone wished to
include a portion of latex2html in their own code and then sell that
code, that's permitted by the DFSG. That's not permitted by this
license. We have the DFSG not to protect Debian's freedom but to protect
the freedom of Debian's *users*.

Point D says that if we ship (or actually, provide for download)
latex2html and gcc, then gcc does not fall under the license of
latex2html. This means that latex2html passes DFSG 9, not that it passes

> What do you think about it? Should we interpret the DFSG more liberally
> and say that the "selling" is just related to the _aggregation_ of our
> packages (that would be a question about the interpretation and maybe a
> call for further explanation in DFSG.1) or do we have to put latex2html
> into non-free?

I would interpret it as the latter (but see below).

> The latter case would be very bad because latex2html is quite popular
> and 35 packages in "main" build-depend on it (!).

Practicality is irrelevant to whether a license is free or not. And in
this case a workaround is available.

> Maybe I should add that some files in latex2html are GPL'ed, which
> possibly forces us / the maintainer to apply the GPL to the whole
> package.

If some files are GPL, then the whole work must be distributed under the
GPL. Unfortunately, this license is incompatible with the GPL;
therefore, we cannot distribute it at all. If you cannot resolve this
issue with upstream, you should file a bug on ftp.debian.org requesting
its removal.

> [1] http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=204684

[0] See the archives for details.

Brian M. Carlson <sandals@crustytoothpaste.ath.cx> 0x560553e7

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: