[tex-live] top-level licensing files

Karl Berry karl at freefriends.org
Wed Sep 17 01:25:03 CEST 2003

1) I've written a new file, LICENSE.CTAN, explaining the licensing
situation with respect to the CTAN snapshot.  I passed it by Manfred and
Klaus, they thought it looked ok in general.  This file will be included
in the DVD distribution only (starting with tonight's build, if all goes

2) I've greatly expanded the text in LICENSE.TL to mention the items
that were discussed at length on the list.

They're checked in to the depot, and I'll include them below FYI.

Any comments or suggestions welcome.


$Id: //depot/Master/LICENSE.CTAN#1 $  $Date: 2003/09/17 $  $Author: karl $


A snapshot of the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) holdings is
taken from time to time and distributed on physical media.  It may be
bundled with the TeX Live system, or distributed separately.

In any case, the licensing conditions of the packages in the CTAN
snapshot vary widely.  In particular (and in contrast to TeX Live), not
all the software meets free software/open source criteria: some are
available only as binaries, others have restrictions on commercial
resale, and so on.

Furthermore, the creators of the CTAN snapshot have explicitly received
permission from some authors of software in the nonfree/ area of CTAN to
include their material in our distribution.  This permission does not
extend to any redistributors; you yourself must also contact the authors
with regards to your own distribution, or refrain from including such

Thus, when redistributing the CTAN snapshot, you must be very careful
that you are not violating any license conditions.  Since each situation
is different, we cannot offer any general advice.

To learn redistribution requirements, we suggest checking the TeX
Catalogue: http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/help/Catalogue/catalogue.html
(or any CTAN mirror).  The Catalogue is also included in the CTAN
snapshot in help/Catalogue, but the online version will have updates.
Of course the licensing files within the packages themselves are the
final authority.

If you believe any files have been included erroneously, please contact
us (references are given below).

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.  
Thanks for your interest in TeX.

CTAN maintainers mailing list: ctan at dante.de
CTAN home page: http://www.ctan.org/

$Id: //depot/Master/LICENSE.TL#5 $  $Date: 2003/09/17 $  $Author: karl $


To the best of our knowledge, all software in this distribution is
freely redistributable (libre, that is, not necessarily gratis), within
the Free Software Foundation's definition and Debian Free Software
Guidelines.  If you find any non-free files included, please contact us
(references given below).

That said, TeX Live has neither a single copyright holder nor a single
license covering its entire contents, since it is a collection of many
disparate packages.  Therefore, you may copy, modify, and/or
redistribute software from TeX Live only if you comply with the
requirements placed thereon by the owners of the respective packages.

To most easily learn these requirements, we suggest checking the TeX
Catalogue at: http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/help/Catalogue/catalogue.html
(or any CTAN mirror).  The Catalogue is also included in TeX Live at
./texmf/doc/html/catalogue/catalogue.html, but the online version will
have updates.  Of course the licensing files within the packages
themselves are the final authority.

In some cases, TeX Live is distributed with a snapshot of the CTAN
archive, which is entirely independent of and separable from TeX Live
itself.  (The "live" DVD in the TeX Collection is one example of this.)
Please be aware that the CTAN snapshot contains many files which are
*not* freely redistributable; see LICENSE.CTAN for more information.


In general, you may redistribute TeX Live, with or without modification,
for profit or not, according to the usual free software tenets.  Here
are some general guidelines for doing this:

- If you make any changes to the TeX Live distribution or any
package it contains, besides complying with any licensing requirements,
you must prominently mention such changes in your modified distribution
so that users do not take your work for ours, and know to contact you,
not us, in case of questions or problems.  A new top-level
README.<yourwork> file is a good place to describe the general situation.

- Especially (but not necessarily) if changes or additions are made, we
recommend a title such as "TeX Live YYYY, for <your work>", where YYYY
is the year of TeX Live you are publishing.  This credits both our work
and yours.

- You absolutely may *not* place your own copyright on the entire
distribution, since it is not your work (as stated above, TeX Live is
not created by any single person or entity).  Statements such as "all
rights reserved" and "may not be reproduced" are especially
reprehensible, since they are anthithetical to the free software
principles under which TeX Live is produced.

- You may use any cover or media label designs that you wish.  Such
packaging and marketing details are not covered by any TeX Live license.

- Finally, we make the following requests (not legal requirements):
a) Acknowledging that TeX Live is developed as a joint effort by all TeX
   user groups, and encouraging the user/reader joining any user group
   of choice.
   The web page http://www.tug.org/usergroups.html may be referenced as
   a list of TeX user groups.  We also appreciate your explicitly
   listing all the user groups given on that page, space permitting.

b) Referencing the TeX Live home page: http://www.tug.org/tex-live/.

c) Crediting the editor of TeX Live: Sebastian Rahtz.

Such credits may be placed on the label of your media, your cover,
and/or in accompanying text (for instance, in the acknowledgements
section of a book).

If you have any questions or comments, *please* contact us.  In general,
we appreciate being given the chance to review any TeX Live-related
material in advance of publication, simply to avoid mistakes.  It is
much easier to correct text on a CD label or in a book before thousands
of copies are made!

We are also happy to keep anyone planning a publication informed as to
our deadlines and progress.  Just let us know.  However, you should be
be aware that TeX Live is produced entirely by volunteers, and no dates
can be guaranteed.


Finally, we are often asked what license to use for new work.  To be
considered for inclusion on TeX Live, a package must use a free software
license, such as the LaTeX Project Public License, the GNU Public
License, the X Window System license, the modified BSD license, etc., or
be put into the public domain.  Please see the url's below for more

Thanks for your interest in TeX.

- Sebastian Rahtz, editor, for the TeX Live team

TeX Live mailing list: texlive at tug.org
TeX Live home page: http://www.tug.org/tex-live/

The FSF's free software definition: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html
Debian Free Software Guidelines:    http://www.debian.org/intro/free
FSF commentary on existing licenses:

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