[tex-live] Unclear License of AMSLaTeX

Barbara Beeton bnb at ams.org
Fri Apr 28 23:50:02 CEST 2006

    Now, as far as the licensing goes, the only way to know for sure is to
    ask DEK.  (This question seems like one that could more usefully be
    asked.)  [...]

when i get some time, i can dig into my archives
and see if i can find a statement about this.
i'm pretty sure he feels that tex.web is the
"final authority", but i don't think he has
stated that the only way a genuine "tex" -- that
being an implementation that passes the trip
test -- can be created is by using the provided
change file mechanism.  and, after all, formally
all the implementations i can think of (other
than dek's own original one) have the name
embellished by something else -- tetex, miktex,
gwtex, textures, etc., etc., etc., even though
system-dependent mods are explicitly allowed
and provided for.

    [...]  The text at the beginning of tex.web explicitly states that
    "changing this file is not allowed".  I don't exactly see that a
    statement he has made elsewhere should take precedence over that.  [...]

and it never will.  he *has* stated clearly
(although i can't think of a clear citation at
the moment) that the change mechanism provides
all that is needed for anyone else to make
system-dependent or application-dependent mods.

    [...]  Sure,
    DEK has always said that the ideas, algorithms, are in the public domain
    and the code can be used as such.  I don't think he's ever said that,
    the file tex.web is in the public domain in the literal legal sense.
    Indeed, that would contradict his expressed wishes about the naming.

and i don't believe he will ever remove the
restriction on naming and the principle that
he is the only one allowed to change tex.web.
somewhere in the documentation with his change
log or errata files is the explicit statement
of his wish that at his death the canonical
version number will become the constant "pi"
and not a numerical approximation.  similarly
with metafont and "e".

    Barbara, do you have any thoughts on this?

before asking dek any questions (and i'm sure
he's been asked before, with responses pretty
much as i've outlined above), the archives
should really be checked.  the tex-implementors
archive (although that's not up to date; i've
really gotten behind) or ancient texhax would
be the first places i'd look after dek's tex
distribution documentation.

if making the ams intention clear could be done
with a statement on the ams tex web pages, that
could probably be done more quickly than a new
release of all the ams packages.  it'll still
have to be approved by management, but wouldn't
take nearly as much time to implement.  how
about a fourth point in the list at the top of
addressing "licensing"?  if that's acceptable,
i'll pursue it directly -- i'm in charge of
maintaining that page, and could come up with
a draft for approval in just a few days.
							-- bb

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