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Re: Ironies abound

Josh Triplett <josh@freedesktop.org> wrote:

>> Did we ever find concrete evidence that TeX comes with a license to
>> create modified versions under different names? The copyright notice
>> at the top of tex.web presents only the patch option, and
>> /usr/share/doc/tetex-bin/copyright is not of much help.

Our copyright file is a nightmare, we really *ought* to sort out which
file is under which copyright and license, and document that.  I still
hope we'll manage it for etch.  As for tex.web, the notice at the top is
misleading, it seems to assume that copying means that the name is
unchanged.  Later in the file, it is written:

| If this program is changed, the resulting system should not be called
| `\TeX'; the official name `\TeX' by itself is reserved
| for software systems that are fully compatible with each other.
| A special test suite called the ``\.{TRIP} test'' is available for
| helping to determine whether a particular implementation deserves to be
| known as `\TeX' [cf.~Stanford Computer Science report CS1027,
| November 1984].

> Some searching around led to an article "The Future of TeX and
> Metafont", written by Knuth, a copy of which is available at
> <http://www.tug.org/tex-archive/digests/tex-mag/v5.n1>.  From this article:
>> I have put these systems into the public domain so that people
>> everywhere can use the ideas freely if they wish.
> [...]
>> anybody can make use of my programs in whatever way they wish, as
>> long as they do not use the names TeX, Metafont, or Computer Modern.
> [followed by conditions for using the names based on a test suite]

The wikipedia article for TeX is also a starting point, it leads to a
different article by DEK.  It's split into two pdf files, the beginning
is in http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/Articles/tb07-2/tb15gordon.pdf, the
interesting part in
http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/Articles/tb07-2/tb15knut.pdf where he also

| All of the methods described in these books are in the public domain;
| thus anybody can freely use any of the ideas. The only thing I'm
| retaining control of is the names, TeX and METAFONT: products that go
| by this name are are obliged to conform to the standard. If any
| changes are made, I won't complain, as long as the changed systems are
| not called TeX or METAFONT.9

> Further searching reveals several sources that indicate the American
> Mathematical Society obtained a trademark on the name TeX for the
> purposes of enforcing those conditions.  Given the limitations on the
> scope of such a trademark, I don't believe this can render the program
> non-free.  In the worst case, it might be necessary to expunge
> non-functional references to the names before making modifications.

Do you have links or references for this trademark thingie?  I read it
so many times that I tend to believe it's true, but never found and
conclusive evidence...

> As far as LaTeX goes, the LPPL has been fixed, though there is still a
> need to do a license audit to check for packages which add additional
> restrictions.

... and for packages with non-free docs.  Any help is appreciated.

Regards, Frank
Frank Küster
Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Protein Folding @ Inst. f. Biochemie, Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer (teTeX)

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