[tex-live] Unclear License of AMSLaTeX

AMS Technical Support tech-support at ams.org
Fri Apr 28 16:20:54 CEST 2006

hi, frank, et al.

please be assured that our intent is simply to ensure
that, when one of our authors uses an ams-latex package,
s/he can be certain that it is the one that we support,
not a modified version.  there is no intent to restrict
distribution of changed versions as long as the name
has been changed and any indication that ams is the
source of support has been removed.  (this applies as
well to ams-tex and amsfonts, which are on ctan, and
to specific ams author packages, which are not.)

the wording of the copyright is drawn from knuth's
original on tex itself, long before latex or any similar
license existed.  we have used this wording from our very
first release of ams-tex, and haven't changed it since then.
the latex team has accepted in good faith that our intent
coincides with theirs, but with the growing controversy
over the wording of licenses, it appears this acceptance
is not general.

i'm not really familiar with the file pcatcode.dtx.
amsrefs has always been in the purview of another person,
first michael downes, and now david jones.  however, i
know that michael was a party to many latex license
discussions, and that is perhaps why he chose to cite
the artistic license rather than use the "usual" ams
statement.  since he's no longer with us, we can't know
for sure, although i'm willing to ask frank mittelbach.

regarding the "usual" ams statement, i've started a
discussion here about possibly changing the statement
to the lppl, or whatever is appropriate that will still
ensure the "authority" of what is in distribution so
that we won't be blind-sided by author submissions
based on modified versions that we're not aware of,
and can't support.  it's very important to us that
ams-latex has been adopted into standard latex; we
hope the entire community benefits -- we certainly do.

any change will have to be approved here by higher
management, and we are not likely to distribute a new
release without also taking into account the bug reports
that have surfaced since the last release, so getting
something done will take some time.  but we will try.

Barbara Beeton
Technical Support
American Mathematical Society
Phone: 800-321-4AMS (321-4267) or 401-455-4080
Internet: tech-support at ams.org

p.s.  your message to tech-support was trapped by
our spam filter, although the copy to tex-live was
not.  i'm totally confused, and have turned that
over to our systems gurus to decipher.  do you have
any ideas why this might have happened?

---------- Original message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 19:32:54 +0200
From: "[iso-8859-1] Frank Küster" <frank at kuesterei.ch>
To: tech-support at ams.org
Cc: 363061 at bugs.debian.org, TeXLive <texlive at tug.org>
Subject: Unclear License of AMSLaTeX

Dear AMSLaTeX team,

I'm a little confused with regard to the license of amslatex.  On CTAN
and in the TeX Catalogue, the license information says that it is
licensed under the LPPL (LaTeX Project Public License).  However,
neither on amslatex' homepage, http://www.ams.org/tex/amslatex.html, nor
in the files on CTAN is a hint that this is actually true.

On the contrary, one of the files in the amsrefs subdirectory,
pcatcode.dtx, says that it's licensed under the Artistic license (which
is pretty unspecific, there are many versions around), and most other
files contain a statement like this:

%%%     copyright       = "Copyright 1995 American Mathematical Society,
%%%                        all rights reserved.  Copying of this file is
%%%                        authorized only if either:
%%%                        (1) you make absolutely no changes to your copy,
%%%                        including name; OR
%%%                        (2) if you do make changes, you first rename it
%%%                        to some other name.",

This is clearly not what the LPPL grants and requires, not even older

- it does not permit to distribute changed versions, even when renamed,

- the current LPPL allows to change the internal identification as an
   alternative to renaming the file, and

- this text doesn't even allow to copy amsclass.dtx to amsclass.dtx.bak

I am sure this is not what was originally intended.  Therefore I'd like
to kindly request that you clarify the license situation, communicate
this to distributors, and include the information in the next release.
In my opinion, the LPPL is indeed a good choice for a LaTeX extension,
and I'd be glad to see amslatex unambiguously LPPL'ed.

Anyway, many thanks for providing and maintaining this great LaTeX

Kind regards, Frank
Frank Küster
Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Protein Folding @ Inst. f. Biochemie, Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer (teTeX)

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