[tex-live] Licences for non-software documents

Frank Küster frank at kuesterei.ch
Mon Jan 8 08:12:31 CET 2007

"Peter Wilson" <herries.press at earthlink.net> wrote:

>    I have submitted a document "titlepages.pdf" (no `source' just
> printable) to CTAN but there is a question about the licence. If an
> article in a magazine is classed as software then titlepages is also
> software, otherwise it is a general document (which happens to have
> been created using LaTeX) showing examples of title pages from books
> and theses (there is LaTeX code showing how I made the illustrations
> but that can be removed without detriment to the intent of the
> document, just a disservice to potential readers).
>    I would like to licence it so that it could be put on TeXlive ---  
> whether the TeXlive assemblers thinks it should be included is another
> matter, but I don't want it to be excluded because of a licence
> problem.

That's a good idea ;-).  AFAIK, TeXlive does not treat documents as
software, but e.g. Debian who provide TeXlive packages in their
distribution do.

>    From the "free" licences I have looked at the Open Publication
> License with options A and B  fits my wishes (OPL is at
> http://opencontent.org/openpub). Having also read the CTAN list of
> free licences and TeXlive licence document it looks as though the OPL
> would be acceptable to TeXlive.

Personally, I wouldn't regard the OPL with option A as free - e.g. I
cannot use parts of the text in a "titlepages_and_figures.pdf" that I
might like to write.  Debian would also not accept option B:  For
example it makes it impossible to publish a "The complete Documentation
in Debian etch" book.  I would also prefer to have the LaTeX source
available, even if it's only for analysing how you did it.

Therefore I would prefer any document to be licensed without these
options.  TeXlive, however, probably accepts the documents with these
options, anyway.

>    I'm sure that I'm not the only one who is concerned about licences
> for documents as opposed to software licences.

Yes, it's a difficult area.  There are also the CC licenses.  However,
they have some minor problems (which are going to be resolved in the next
version which is promised to come soon), at least that is what the
debian-legal people told me.  There's also a multitude of them, they
being translated in lots of languages, with slightly different content
due to problems with translations and differing legal terms in different

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

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