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

# latex2html license: A Letter to Leeds University

Hi,

since we agreed that the current latex2html license is non-free[1] and I
moved the package to non-free, the original author (Nikos Drakos) and
the current maintainer (Ross Moore) signalled willingness to change the
license. But we possibly need an agreement from Leeds University. I
prepared a letter, as attached.

etc. (I'm no native english speaker.)

If there's no opposition, I will send it by snail mail to make it more
official and to make an answer more probable.

IMO, there is a good chance to have latex2html back in main in 2004 or
2005.

Thanks.

bye,
Roland

[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/debian-legal-200310/msg00383.html
and follow-ups

\documentclass[a4paper,12pt]{dinbrief}

\usepackage{verbatim}

Debian Developer\\
stigge@debian.org}
\backaddress{Roland Stigge, Debian Project}
\signature{Roland Stigge\\
Debian Developer}

\begin{document}
\begin{letter}{University of Leeds\\
Computer Based Learning Unit\\
LEEDS, LS2 9JT\\
United Kingdom}

\subject{Subject: The license of \LaTeX2HTML}

\opening{Dear officials at Leeds University,}

I'm a developer of the Free Software / Open Source project called
Debian\footnote{Debian is one of the most famous Debian GNU/Linux Computer
Operating System Distributions, see http://www.debian.org/} and personally
maintain the quite popular package
\LaTeX2HTML\footnote{http://www.latex2html.org/} for it. This conversion tool,
designed to translate from the \LaTeX{} publishing format to HTML, was initially
written in 1993 by Nikos Drakos during his work at Leeds University. Its

\begin{verbatim}
==================

LaTeX2HTML by Nikos Drakos <nikos@cbl.leeds.ac.uk>

Some portions of this package are published under the
GNU public license. These are clearly marked in the header.

****************************************************************
General License Agreement and Lack of Warranty *****************
****************************************************************

This software is distributed in the hope that it will be useful
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY. The author(s) do not accept responsibility
to anyone for the consequences of using it or for whether it serves
any particular purpose or works at all. No warranty is made about
the software or its performance.

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:

o  The copyright notice and this entire notice are included intact
and prominently carried on all copies and supporting documentation.
o  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.
o  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.
o  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.

This software is made available AS IS, and is distributed without
warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.

In no event will the author(s) or their institutions be liable to you
for damages, including lost profits, lost monies, or other special,
incidental or consequential damages arising out of or in connection
with the use or inability to use (including but not limited to loss of
data or data being rendered inaccurate or losses sustained by third
parties or a failure of the program to operate as documented) the
program, even if you have been advised of the possibility of such
damages, or for any claim by any other party, whether in an action of
contract, negligence, or other tortious action.
\end{verbatim}

While this license was unquestionably written as a Free Software / Open Source
license, the Debian project considers it non-free'' because of the second
clause:

\begin{verbatim}
o  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.
\end{verbatim}

This violates our self-imposed Debian Free Software Guidelines''
(DFSG\footnote{http://www.de.debian.org/social\_contract\#guidelines}), because
it doesn't allow the software to be sold. Please note that this unveils a quite
ironical condition because Debian is one of the least commercial system
distributions (not even directly providing physical CDs, DVDs or support
contracts). Instead, it's a wholly voluntarily driven project as e.g. Linux
itself. But please also note that it lives from its users who have to aquire
the software somehow. This is usually done by CDs and DVDs which are in turn
sold by different vendors.

I would like to inform you that the Debian Project has concluded the above
non-free''\footnote{http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/debian-legal-200310/msg00383.html
and follow-ups} and therefore removed it from it's main distribution. To
facilitate the already existing large user base of the program (and to move the
package back into our main distribution), I would like to ask you for the
permission to distribute the software under the protection of the GNU General

In the following I will list some further reasons for doing so:
\begin{itemize}
\item The original author of the package, Nikos Drakos, has signalled to
possibly agree to a license change in the described direction. But he wondered
if he needs support by you, his former employer where he worked during the
birth of \LaTeX2HTML. Ross Moore, the current maintainer of \LaTeX2HTML, also
showed the willingness to cooperate.
\item The GPL is a quite popular license in the area of Free Software / Open
Source. In contrast to individual licenses like the current one for
\LaTeX2HTML, it's well known in the whole world and under constant review by
the user and developer base to prevent legal problems (possibly like the one in
question).
\item As noted in the above quoted license itself, some parts of \LaTeX2HTML
are already issued under the protection of the GPL. This probably means that
the whole package should be licensed under the GPL anyway.
\item Debian is not the only project distributing \LaTeX2HTML. Other
distributions of the popular GNU/Linux system like RedHat and SuSE and
different BSD derivates also use \LaTeX2HTML and probably have the same problem.
\item The change would ensure the investment of Leeds University into the Free
Software community by saving its further widespread use.
\end{itemize}

I'm looking forward to get an answer from you. Thanks in advance.

\closing{Sincerely,}
\end{letter}
\end{document}


Attachment: leeds.dvi
Description: TeX dvi file

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: This is a digitally signed message part