[tex-live] Political showstopper

Alan T Litchfield alan at alphabyte.co.nz
Sun Sep 14 11:25:45 CEST 2003

On Saturday, September 13, 2003, at 10:14  PM, Fabrice Popineau wrote:

> I have seen a copy of 'Digital Typography Using LaTeX' which includes a
> TeXLive cd-rom (special edition prepared for the book).
> The copyright text inside the book states that you are not
> permitted to copy or distribute the cdrom. Neither the text in the book
> or the copyright says that the cdrom is a free product.

The key words here are that it is a ``special edition prepared for the 
book.'' It is normal procedure for publishing companies to place 
copyright restrictions on specific imprints of publications. In this 
sense a CD containing a computer program is an imprint belonging to the 
publisher, and therefore comes under their copyright. The copyright 
laws of most countries vary to some degree, so it is necessary to 
determine which country produced the book, first.

In New Zealand the law is based on precedents established in England, 
Australia and to a lesser extent, the US. The law in this context 
identifies that copyright can be exercised on a specific imprint of a 
publication if the content belongs to the public domain, i.e. the 
copyright has passed from the author after the requisite period of 
time, or the publisher owns the copyright in that it was transferred 
from the author, i.e. the publisher bought the rights to copy from the 

It may be that in this case the publisher will contend that the content 
exists in the public domain and is theirs to do with as they will. You 
therefore need to argue that it is not in the public domain and the 
copyright exists for specific named people or organisations. when you 
have sufficiently argued the case then you may sue for `loss of 
earnings' as a percentage of the income the publisher has derived from 
including the CD with the book -- of course you will need to 
demonstrate that the CD added a certain amount of value to the 
publication, it is this difference you can claim on.

> There is no mention of
> TUG or LUGs existence and the fact this product is the result of the
> work of many people and that it would be welcome for the reader of the
> book to join one of the user groups.

This is a courtesy issue, on the part of the publisher. They are not 
presently obligated to do this, so why not make the necessary changes 
to the distribution rights contained with the CD that such `offers' 
must accompany any mass distribution of the content.

> Worse, people buying the book are
> even complaining that they have bought the cdrom and that we should 
> help
> them using it. Some of them thought they had to buy the book  to get 
> the
> cdrom.

In this case, direct those people back to the publisher. If they wish 
to maintain copyright over the imprint they have distributed then they 
should also maintain customer concerns related to that same imprint.

> [ By the way, Apostolos Syropoulos is one of the book authors and is in
> charge of organising TUG2004. I wonder what are his interests in
> organising such a conference when he is even not ready to advertise TUG
> when he is publishing a book about TeX but that's another story.]

Good on Apostolos for putting himself out and earning an income from 
something he has clearly invested a lot in. But he is not responsible 
for what the publisher does with their distribution channels. Anyone 
who has been involved with publishers will know they can be awful 
entities to deal with and will exercise their own concerns before 
giving authors the time of day.

> - I'm writing a message to RMS explaining what the problem is and 
> asking
> if the FSF can help us (or at least me and the ones willing to be
> involved in it) in dealing with this past situation (suing editors ? or
> at least threatening them).

If TeX is to grow in popularity and expand its user base then it is 
better to find ways to work with these people, not to alienate them. 
Editors do not publish books, publishers do.

> - I don't want to put any Windows version of the programs on TL2003 if
> nothing is done to _prevent people to steal the copyright this way_.

Whacking off the nose will not make the face more appealing. Rather it 
will turn away those people who expect to see a nose there. What about 
TUG members who expect to get a CD with their membership and that use 
MS Windows, why penalise them?

Just a few thoughts on the matter.

Alan Litchfield
AlphaByte: PO Box 1941, Auckland, New Zealand
Graphic Design, Education and Training,
Technical Documentation, Consulting.

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