Jeremias Maerki wrote:

> And then there's the files from the original TeX distribution by Donald
> Knuth which are assumed to be in the public domain but with certain
> restrictions (modified file shall not contain the same filename as the
> original). Problem there is that there is not really something you could
> call a license associated with the distribution, at least non that I
> could find. This is all more or less based on "common knowledge", rather
> than hard facts on file.

Here are some excerpts from Chapter 30, "The Future of TeX and METAFONT"
from Knuth's "Digital Typography", 1999, Center for the Study of Language
and Information, ISBN 1-57589-010-4:

My work on developing TeX, METAFONT, and Computer Modern has come to an end.
I will make no further changes except to correct extremely serious bugs.

I have put these systems into the public domain so that people everywhere
can use the ideas freely if they wish....

As stated on the copyright pages of Volumes B, D, and E, [referring here to
the 5-volume "Computers and Typesetting" series] anybody can make use of my
programs in whatever way they wish, as long as they do not use the names
TeX, METAFONT, or Computer Modern. In particular, any person or group who
wants to produce a program superior to mine is free to do so. However,
nobody is allowed to call a system TeX or METAFONT unless that system
conforms 100% to my own programs, as I have specified in the manuals for the
TRIP and TRAP tests....

Of course I do not claim to have found the best solution to every problem. I
simply claim that it is a great advantage to have a fixed point as a
building block.... I welcome continued research that will lead to
alternative systems that can typeset documents better than TeX is able to
do. But the authors of such systems must think of another name....


BTW, nothing in the excised portions of the above are contradictory, only

The copyright page for Volume B of "Computers and Typesetting", which volume
is entitled "TeX: The Program" says the following: "The program for TeX is
in the public domain, and readers my freely incorporate the algorithms of
this book into their own programs. However, use of the name 'TeX' is
restricted to software systems that agree exactly with the program presented

Now, I suppose that an argument could be made that the hyphenation patterns
are not part of the algorithm, but I think an equally good argument can be
made that they are. They are certainly part of the TeX distribution, and
Knuth's license documented above extends to the "frozen" version of TeX. If
the name is TeX, and the files are a part of it, Knuth's license applies.

I appreciate the concern for IP rights, and the desire to be conservative on
such matters. I am extremely conservative about such things myself, having
made my living off of such rights for years. I just don't know what Knuth
could have done to be more clear that these files are in the public domain.
I suppose a file in the distribution would have been nice, but ... Actually,
there might be one, but I haven't been able to find it either.

I think the correct solution here is to install the TeX (not LaTeX)
hyphenation pattern files, credit Knuth, make a comment that Knuth's files
are in the public domain, add the Apache License (to apply to any
additions), and turn our users loose looking for things that might need to
be added. A post to the user mailing list and a release note (saying that
the hyphenation files are different, and perhaps less comprehensive) would
be good also.

BTW, I don't see a restriction on the /file/ names being the same, only on
the product itself being the same.

I apologize that some of the above is redundant from previous postings. I
did not cite the authorities previously, and perhaps that will help us get
moving here again.

Victor Mote

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