[tex-live] License auditing: Consequences

Robin Fairbairns Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk
Mon Sep 4 17:48:22 CEST 2006

Frank K=FCster wrote:

> as outlined in my previous e-mail, I've found some files with non-free
> license statements, or none at all (and am probably going to find
> more).  I am sure that I will not be able to do all the work of
> contacting authors (of sometimes age-old packages) and talking to them
> about proper licensing.  Therefore I'm considering sending postings to
> comp.text.tex (and maybe also language-specific TeX groups), asking for
> help. =

ctan experience is that one gets essentially no response.

> In order to be able to express properly the urgency and consequences of
> non-relicensing, I would like to get some information about how TeXLive
> used to handle, or is going to handle such cases.  Debian is in the
> fortunate position to posess a non-free archive, which - although not
> part of Debian proper - serves users well.  Therefore we may be able to
> sort things into the non-free category more lightheartedly than
> TeXLive. =

but surely, if texlive is a part of debian tex strategy, confusion is
engendered if there's no clear split between free and nonfree, in

fwiw, we have had to give up the ctan nonfree tree; we did a small
amount of systematic work on it, and realised that the two would end
up roughly equal sizes: we simply don't have that amount of processing

> How would you act on files
> - without any license statement, except the implicit grant to distribute
>   (by uploading to CTAN)

i mark them licence 'unknown' -- my assumption is that such packages
should be regarded as nonfree

> - with some sort of public domain statement, not saying clearly what
>   this means (problematic since "public domain" doesn't exist in may
>   jurisdictions) =

i mark them licence 'pd' -- i really have no clear idea how such a
thing might be treated legally, but we do have that implicit
permission to distribute.

> - saying that they are licensed under license $FOO (mostly LPPL), but at
>   the same time "explaining" what that means in words that never really
>   matched the proper meaning of $FOO,

i mark such packages as other.

>    or only old versions

i tend to let such packages stand, provided they have the standard
rubric "or any later version, at your convenience".

another one that is bothering me is:

- claiming a licence that requires source distribution, but not
  providing source.

i'm searching such things out, and marking them unknown (see above),
hence nonfree (in my view).

> Do TeXLive people make a difference in license requirements between TeX
> input files and examples or documentation?  Would a package with a "this
> file is under license $foo" header in the style file, but no license
> information at all for documentation qualify for inclusion in TeXLive?

if the documentation is a derived product (as is often the case with
latex and context things), this isn't an issue (or is it?).

i've not investigated the licences applied to documentation, in fact.

note, when i say above "i do <x> to a package", i'm referring to what
i write in the tex catalogue.


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