[tex-live] TeX Live 2011 License Audit - Non Free Items [01/02]

Tom Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Thu Dec 15 15:57:49 CET 2011

On 12/14/2011 06:19 PM, Norbert Preining wrote:
> Hi Tom,
> thanks for your work, one comment I have:
> On Mi, 14 Dez 2011, Tom Callaway wrote:
>> > * ec
>> > Reason: Red Hat Legal says the license is non-free, primarily because of
>> > the requirement that modifications must always be accompanied by
>> > unmodified originals.
>> > Importance: Jindrich says these are "sort of important fonts" in
>> > latex-recommended
> Removing them sounds like a bad idea.

Yes. But we need to get the license fixed. Please keep in mind that the
logic path here is not "Lets trim down TeXLive!", but rather, "Fedora
cannot include non-free items (and TeXLive claims to not include
non-free items), so these non-free things in TeXLive must either be
relicensed or removed."

>> > * floatflt
>> > Reason: License is non-free due to explicit clause forbidding modification:
>> > 
>> > %  You may use the `floatflt' package freely, but at your own
>> > %  risk.  The authors of floatflt.dtx and floatflt.ins (the
>> > %  complete `floatflt' package distribution) can not be held
>> > %  responsible for any consequence of your using any of these
>> > %  files, or files created from these, including hardware,
>> > %  software, and data damage.  You may not make any changes to
>> > %  the files floatflt.dtx or floatflt.ins.  You are allowed to make
>> > %  changes to the `\documentclass' and/or `\usepackage' commands
>> > %  of the file `floatexm.tex'.  You may incorporate
>> > %  the code from these files in other files under different
>> > %  names, provided the original authors are given full credit for
>> > %  their work and that you yourself take the complaints from the
>> > %  user(s) of your file(s).  You may freely distribute the
>> > %  files floatflt.dtx and floatflt.ins, provided that you
>> > %  always distribute `floatflt.dtx' and `floatflt.ins' together
>> > %  at the same time.
> Huuu, then we have to remove TeX, too? The "use the code but rename"
> is generally accepted, even in Debian.
> Here it is explicitely stated that
> 	"You may incorporate the code from these files in other 
>          files under different names, ..."
> So I don't see a real problem here: you create a new file (different name),
> incorporate the full code, and then change it. 

The real problem is that the license is poorly written, because while it
could be interpreted the way you suggest, it states:

"You may not make any changes to the files floatflt.dtx or floatflt.ins."

There are no conditionals there, it doesn't say "except as indicated
below". It just says no. And later, when it says "you may incorporate
the code from these files in other files", it still doesn't give you
permission to _modify_ the code that you are incorporating in other
files, so even if these new files are surrounded by other code, the code
you incorporated has no permission to be modified.

So, while I hope that the floatflt author had good intent behind this
license, it seems like the LPPL would be a more appropriate (and better
written) option to actually accomplish that good intent.

> Well, from my point of view I always want to understand the meaning
> of the statement. We are speaking about packages that have been 
> written long before this crazy license paranoia. And the above
> statement clearly states that you can chage it, but you have
> to take "the blame", i.e., saying that you made changes.
> I consider that equivalent to PD.

Red Hat Legal (who are actual lawyers, unlike you and me), disagree. As
to this effort being "crazy license paranoia", I would point out that
TeXLive claims to be completely Free Software, so they must also be
suffering from "crazy license paranoia".

>> > * midnight
>> > Reason: This is the license:
>> > 
>> > %	You can use these macros to typeset documents. You may
>> > %	distribute this file freely, provided that you also distribute
>> > %	the accompanying documentation.
>> > %	    You may make changes to this file, or extract portions
>> > %	of it for inclusion in other files, provided that
>> > %	    (1) you change the name of the file;
>> > %	    (2) you give proper credit and include copyright
>> > %		information where applicable;
>> > %	    (3) explain how an unchanged version can be obtained; and
>> > %	    (4) document the usage of your macros/changes (if usage
>> > %		of your macros is not worth documenting, they must not
>> > %		be worth using).
>> > %	You are not allowed to use the name ``Midnight Macros'' for
>> > %	any changed files.
>> > %	    The above rules for making changes do not apply where it
>> > %	is explicitly noted in this file that something can be changed
>> > %	to conform to your local installation.
>> > 
>> > It is non-free, because it forces you to distribute only with the
>> > accompanying documentation.
>> > Importance: Low, part of the generic extra collection, should be safe to
>> > delete.
> Again, remark from above applies, renaming is allowed and then the
> clauses do not apply.

I'm not sure why you think the clauses somehow stop being applicable.
However, that is not the issue here, as I stated, the issue is that
distribution has a requirement of always accompanying the documentation,
even if the code has been modified and renamed to the extent that the
original documentation is no longer remotely relevant. Waiving that
requirement would probably be enough to resolve this licensing issue.

>> > * ogham
>> > Reason: Could not find a license. Forced to assume it is non-free.
>> > Importance: Very low, part of the extra fonts collection, adds support
>> > for an extremely archaic and dead language, should be safe to delete.
> "extremely archaic and dead language" - another example would be "latin"?
> 	"Don't be hasty!" 
> comes to my mind.

I only included this phrasing to provide relevant information for the
"Importance" field. If it had been latin, I would only describe it as a
"dead language". If it had been Chinese, I would have described it as
"very important".

Again, I'm not going through TeXLive, assigning importance to the
components and pressing for the ones that I deem to be unimportant to be
removed. This is entirely about the licensing issues, and the relative
impact to TeXLive if they cannot be resolved and must be removed or


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