[tex-live] Licences for non-software documents

Peter Wilson herries.press at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 9 06:35:15 CET 2007


    I have in my mind a distinction between software and document. It 
appears that most see no distinction and I have a problem with that. That 
probably means that others might feel that they have a problem with me. Oh, 

Peter W.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Karl Berry" <karl at freefriends.org>
To: <herries.press at earthlink.net>
Cc: <tex-live at tug.org>
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 3:01 PM
Subject: Re: [tex-live] Licences for non-software documents

> Hi Peter,
> Sorry for overlap with Frank's reply, I wrote it before I saw it ...
>    whether the TeXlive assemblers thinks it should be included is another
>    matter,
> I am pretty "inclusive" about such decisions :).  I'm sure I would
> include it.
>    but I don't want it to be excluded because of a licence problem.
> The main thing is that the source is needed.  Is that a problem for you?
> It doesn't matter how "pretty" it is.  I often recommend to people to
> put their source files in a .zip bundle, which I then include that way
> in TL.

    Why is the source needed? For the sake or argument, suppose I scanned 
pages from out-of-copyright documents and assembled them into a new document 
together with some scanned hand-written pages. What is the source? Suppose I 
just wrote an email message using plain ASCII, what is the source?

>    From the "free" licences I have looked at the Open Publication
>    License with options A and B fits my wishes (OPL is at
> OPL is free if you don't exercise the options in section VI (says
> http://gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#RealOPL), so it would be ok in
> that case.  But I don't recommend it, simply because there is nothing
> else on CTAN or TL which uses that license.  (Aside: I've suggested it
> be removed from the license list dropdown on CTAN, since that highlights
> it unnecessarily.)

    I realise that most of the stuff on CTAN is `compilable' latex code and 
it can be possible to distinguish between the pre- and post-compliled works, 
hence the LPPL is the best you can get for a license for that, but there are
other things that most would not think of as compilable. Is a list of the 
contents of TeXlive compilable? Is the LPPL itself under the LPPL (and under 
my reading it isn't)? If it isn't, should it be there at all?

    I feel that there should be consideration of how to deal with `plain 
documents' other than the GFDL (like you, I don't want to get into that 
hornet's nest).

> Given source availability, which for a document should not pose any
> particular problem, there is no problem with using the GPL, LPPL, or any
> other mostly-used-for-software license.

    Again, why the requirement for the source? In my particular case I'm 
supplying a PDF file. There is software that lets you pick such a file 
apart. Does it matter how the file was created? What if I had used a WYSIWYG 
commercial product whose native form was PDF to generate it? What is the 
source? Why is the result unacceptable?


> The most widely used pure documentation license I know of is the GFDL(*)
> (used by wikipedia et al., http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), but I
> don't see a reason to go that route here.  (You'd have to include the
> license itself in the document.)
> Happy to discuss further if you want.
> Best,
> Karl
> (*) To anyone who might be tempted to reply with a tirade about the
> GFDL: yes, I know very well that the GFDL with invariant sections is
> considered nonfree by Debian, etc.  Let's not go there, pleeeeease.

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