[tex-live] License auditing: Consequences

David Kastrup dak at gnu.org
Wed Sep 6 21:08:46 CEST 2006

Robin Fairbairns <Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk> writes:

> Frank Kuester wrote (in reply to me):
>> > 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
>> > texlive?
>> Well, some confusion will stay anyway: Unless the FSF presents a revised
>> version of the GFDL which is acceptable to the majority of Debian
>> developers, GFDL-licensed documentation in texlive will be in a separate
>> non-free Package in Debian, anyway.  So there's not *much* more
>> confusion on the users' side if some input files are in non-free, too.
>> However, I'd rather avoid this, both because I generally dislike these
>> "my type of freedom, your type of freedom" discussions, and because it
>> would be much more work.
> the gfdl is pretty much a joke, afaics (at least one
> reputable-seeming source seems to contradict its terms -- as
> distributed it formats with latex into a terrible mess).  anyone who
> can persuade the fsf to sort the thing out will be doing the world a
> good service.

The problem is that the GFDL is not a software license and was never
intended as such.  So it was not intended to meet the definitions of
free software.  I find it a rather good compromise for publishing
documents that are to be available on paper mainly.  The closer
documentation becomes integrated into and a part of software, the more
problematic this gets, however.

Since Debian does not view documentation separately from software, it
is not surprising that they don't consider GFDL free.

GFDL will get overhauled after GPLv3, and at least the invariant
sections are slated to leave according to Eben Moglen.

How much the FSF and their legal counsel will take into account that
the relationship between typical GFDL documents and software turned
out different than anticipated will remain to be seen.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

More information about the tex-live mailing list