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

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Thu Dec 15 16:52:56 CET 2011

Hi all,

just thinking it seems to me that a piece of software without its
documentation may turn useless because the user may be unable to use
it. The author of sunch a software may then be blamed for creating a
useless product. Thus the requirement of an inclusion of documentation
seems natural for me and I would not consider it nonfree. On the other
hand I can understand that a user may not wish the documentation on
the hard disk for any reason. The restriction says that the
documentation must be distributed but does not say that a user is not
allowed to delete it. If you provide a button or a commad line option
so that a user can select whether the documentation will be installed.
from my point of view the restriction is obeyed because the
documentation is distributed but its installation is left in the
user's selection.

2011/12/15 Robin Fairbairns <Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk>:
> Tom Callaway <tcallawa at redhat.com> wrote:
>> >> > * 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.
> i do most of the first-pass front line cataloguing of stuff on ctan,
> nowadays.
> i agree with tom, i'm afraid, but my labelling the package as "non-free"
> was overruled.
> as for the ec fonts, i've long felt that the licence was far too
> restrictive to achieve what's wanted, but i was persuaded that it's
> enough like knuth's licence to permit it to be regarded as free.  the
> same has happened with a number of packages on ctan.
> (anyway, regardless of what jindrich says, i *hate* the ec fonts ;-)
> i shall try and find time to read the whole of tom's post, and to offer
> comments from my niche perspective.  but it's rather near chaos time,
> and i'm disorganised to start with ... so it may take me a while.
> Robin Fairbairns
> (of the CTAN team)

Zdeněk Wagner

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