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latex2html license: "A Letter to Leeds University", round 2


thanks Matt, for polishing my first draft of the letter[1]. I
incorporated your changes, made the wording "University of Leeds" more
consistent and changed "Debian GNU/Linux" back to "Debian" (IMO the
project name is "Debian", while "Debian GNU/Linux" is a product).

I will submit the attached version to the latex2html mailing list[2] to
make sure the maintainer and the original author basically agree.

Then, I will send the letter together with copies of the current
latex2html license and the GPLv2 to the University of Leeds.


[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/debian-legal-200401/msg00019.html
[2] latex2html@tug.org
% Changes:
% 2004-01-04:
% * Incorporated changes of Matt Black
% * Made name "University of Leeds" consistent
% * "Debian GNU/Linux" -> "Debian"


\address{Roland Stigge\\
         Debian Developer\\
	 \emph{address placeholder}\\
\backaddress{Roland Stigge, Debian Project}
\signature{Roland Stigge\\
           Debian Developer}

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

\subject{Subject: The license of \LaTeX2HTML}

\opening{Dear Sir or Madam,}

I'm a developer of the Free Software / Open Source project called
Debian\footnote{See http://www.debian.org/} and personally maintain the 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 Mr Nikos Drakos during his work with the
Computer Based Learning Unit at the University of Leeds.

The reason I am writing to you is that there is some uncertainty about the
ownership of the copyright that vests in \LaTeX2HTML. Mr Drakos has signalled a
willingness to change the licensing terms for \LaTeX2HTML but wonders if he
needs your permission or support to do so due to the fact that he was employed
by the University at the time of creating the software.  As a precaution, we
would like your written agreement to change the license terms for \LaTeX2HTML
from its current license to the GNU General Public License
(GPL)\footnote{Verbatim copies of these two licenses are enclosed.}.

The current license for \LaTeX2HTML was unquestionably written as a Free
Software / Open Source license, however one aspect of the license causes the
Debian project difficulties.  The second clause reads:

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.

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. Debian is actually one of the least
commercial system distributions (not even directly providing physical CDs, DVDs
or support contracts) and is a wholly volunteer project as e.g. Linux itself.
However, a common way for users to acquire the Debian system is to purchase it
on CD or DVD from an independent vendor.

For this reason, the Debian Project has concluded that the current license does
not comply with our
and follow-ups} and \LaTeX2HTML has been removed from Debian's main
distribution. Changing the license terms would allow the program to return to
our main distribution and facilitate the already existing large user base of

There are a number of arguments in favour of changing the license:
\item The original author of the package, Mr Drakos, has signalled some
willingness to change the license, and only wonders if he needs the support of
the University of Leeds, which was his employer at the time he created it. Ross
Moore, the current maintainer of \LaTeX2HTML, also expressed willingness to
\item The GPL is a popular license in the area of Free Software / Open Source.
In contrast to individual licenses like the current one for
\LaTeX2HTML, it is well known around the world and under constant review by the
user and developer base to prevent legal problems (possibly like the one in
\item As you will see in the current license itself, some parts of \LaTeX2HTML
are already licensed 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 protect the investment of the University of Leeds in the
Free Software community by ensuring further widespread use of \LaTeX2HTML.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I look forward
to your reply. Thanks in advance.



Attachment: leeds2.dvi
Description: TeX dvi file

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

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