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Hans Aberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 26 Jun 2002 14:37:06 +0200
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Somewhere, sometime, Frank Mittelbach wrote:
>To prevent this the license contains a (in my opinion) questionable statement:
> You may not modify in any way a file of The Program that bears a legal
> notice forbidding modification of that file.
> > > I suggest that you contact Richard Stallman.
>as David pointed out the LPPL came into existance largely due to an anourmous
>amount of mail exchange (and personal discussions) with Richard; so his input
>is actually already there (and he was satisfied with it).
>my suggested change is in fact prompted by a suggestion from Richard how
>to get
>rid that problematic part. Thus i don't expect new arguments coming from that

I recall I had an exchange with RMS recently on some such matters. The
problem is that you do not indicate fully exactly what is the problem with
the license quote above. Some inputs:

- I take it that copyright is essentially a set of laws about preserving
the owners business rights and concerns. If no such business concerns exist
in the use of the material, other laws, such as the freedom of expression,
has precedence.

- The term "The Program" may not be legally specific enough, because UNIX
OS's have something called programs (a process with its own memory space),
but at least MacOS pre-X does not (having offical names like "applications"
and the like, but never "program"). So perhaps you should define 'In this
license text, the term "the Program" indicates ...', if that has not
already been done.

- It is fully possible to indicate the intent of the license, in addition
to the legal formalism. Thus you may have a text say like "the intent of
this license is to make sure that users will be able to use the exact
original, unless modifications have been indicated in a clear manner so as
there can be no confusion to the users as to that it is not the original
but a derivation".

- It can be a good idea to fix "moral" principles. Various license
specialization can then be worked out from those general principles, by
covering up special cases of corrupting the original principles. This then
corresponds to the process in society with a legislative body that covers
up what they consider "transgressions".

For example, the principle of the GNU license is that not only should the
original sources be free, but also their uses (including derivations). This
is however not always practical in say the case of libraries, GCC/Bison
produced code, DLL's, various manipulations, and hybrids thereof, etc., so
that one has to write special licenses in order to cover up those cases.

  Hans Aberg