[tex-live] license violation in tetex-texmf-3.0 fixed

gnwiii at gmail.com gnwiii at gmail.com
Fri May 26 13:34:52 CEST 2006

On 5/26/06, Petr Olsak <petr at olsak.net> wrote:
> On Thu, 25 May 2006, Thomas Esser wrote:
> > Petr Olsak has notified me today, that tetex-texmf-3.0.tar.gz contains
> > three files which have been modified in a way that violates his license.
> > The modification had been done by me (as I wrongly assumed that the
> > license was GPL; in fact the license was "GPL with some additional
> > restrictions").
> [...]

This is a key point.  It is a act of life that software must be
examined not only for correct functionality, but for conformance with
licenses.  Just as we can't be sure there are no bugs left, we can
never be sure every license was handled properly.

T.E. has to deal with licenses for all the files included in teTeX.
Under (standard) GPL modification is allowed and for such small
changes failure to send them to the author very understandable.  T.E.
made a simple mistake, and one that any of us could have made.  The
real failure is that the mistake wasn't recognized when tetex-3.0 was
being tested.

> What went on at this point? I believe that the ideal communication betwen
> co-workers would follow like this:
> * T.E. to P.O. (Mar. 2005): thanks for new wersion, but I released
>   teTeX tree tetex-texmf-3.0.tar.gz one month ago. There is old
>   version of CSTeX here. I don't plan to do any changes in file
>   tetex-texmf-3.0.tar.gz and this file will be for many months the
>   official source of TeX software for hudreds of Linux distributions.
> [...]
> Unfortunately, this communication has never happened. What happened was
> this: P.O. was never informed that the source for Linux distributions was
> not upgraded with CSTeX files from March 3 2005. The end users of CSTeX
> from Linux distributions are out of luck, because due to communication
> problems between P.O. and T.E. the software they need does not work.

In the real world communications between well-intentioned parties are
never perfect.  A license such as yours has advantages (preventing a
morass of slightly different versions with conflicting filenames so
user don't know which is which) but imposes a burden on packagers and

Authors can't monitor the actions of every packager.  In the case of a
widely used package such as teTeX, however, it makes sense that
authors as well as users be involved in testing to find and correct
mistakes.  Maybe it is a tribute to the high quality of teTeX that we
have all have been lax in pre-release scrutiny.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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