GPL suitable?

Issue #123 resolved
André Miede repo owner created an issue

In German: "Nach meinem Verständnis der GPL und einer Rückfrage im Open Source StackExchange [0] bin ich mir recht sicher, dass das bedeutet, dass damit juristisch auch die resultierende Masterarbeit unter der GPL steht / stehen müsste. Das würde bedeuten, dass ich - die .tex-Dateien mit abgeben (bzw. irgendwie verfügbar machen) müsste - Abbildungen und Sätze aus der MA nicht in spätere Papers übernehmen könnte, ohne dass auch die Papers unter die GPL fallen (was wiederum zu Problemen mit den Publishern führen könnte)"

[0] https://opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/2735/gpl-licensed-latex-template-implications-for-resulting-work

Official response

  • André Miede reporter

    Sorry for my long silence on this topic, I am still confused and trying to make some sense (and actions) out of this. Some years ago, I even had the postcardware stuff in there in addition to the GPL, but some lawyer complained with CTAN.

    Will look into this and come up with a solution. So long, I agree 100% with Ivo that we would not like to compete with proprietary modified versions of our own work, but that the whole template is free as free beer and free speech. Postcards are still highly appreciated ;-)

Comments (22)

  1. Ivo Pletikosić

    If the Masterarbeit contains or distributes a modification of the code you released under GPL as someotherthesis.sty, then yes, the modified code should also be GPL'ed. But if the Masterarbeit is the product of running your code on some input data, which results in a PDF, I believe that's the same as running a filter on an image in, say, GIMP. classicthesis.sty can remain under GPL, you/we may consider releasing the (rest of the) template under some other license.

  2. pombredanne NA

    @amiede Do you have an English translation? For the poor souls that do not understand German?

  3. Johannes Böttcher

    I think the package file should be licensed under the LPPL. The skeleton example document is just an example, i (still) don't think an example should be licensed, but should be public domain, as every user will have to make changes.

  4. Ivo Pletikosić

    Johannes, every user has the right to make any changes. But if they decide to redistribute the modified template, they have to do it under GPL. This does not apply to PDF, that's covered by "Copyright law does not give you any say in the use of the output people make from their data using your program. If the user uses your program to enter or convert his own data, the copyright on the output belongs to him, not you. More generally, when a program translates its input into some other form, the copyright status of the output inherits that of the input it was generated from." Koppor, no one can force you to publish/distribute your tex. PDF is not a compiled program, it's interpreted data. Your PDF does not need an sty or some sort of 'compiled binary of the sty' to show the data, which means you do not need to distribute classicthesis.sty with it. And GPL is all about (re)distribution... of the Work (classicthesis.sty in this case). GPL is kind of pay-it-forward, LPPL only cares the modified file name be changed.

  5. Johannes Böttcher

    Ivo, i fully agree with you. Would classicthesis be under LPPL, all that discussion wouldn't be needed. Basically, that is what i was writing in my answer.

    You only need classicthesis.sty and the tex file to recreate the pdf-file, not to read it. Since the pdf-file (as distributed) was typeset on a special timestamp, you would need distribute the relevant parts of TeX Live as well. So, you are basically distributing TeX Live under the LPPL.

    Guys, i really don't see any reason to argue here. That has been done years ago. The result of that: The LPPL in its current form. We are currently just wasting time and effort. I'm out.

  6. Ivo Pletikosić

    I agree. No need to argue. I'm just sending the message "fear not, no one is going to sue you". What I don't understand about the LPPL, though, is whether a derivative work (myevenmoreclassicthesis.sty) will be forced to be released under LPPL as well, i.e. will pay-it-forward be preserved?

  7. Ivo Pletikosić

    Haha. You're right. And changing the files that have a big Do not modify this line is fine even with the GPL, as long as they keep the files for themselves. The GPL only gives you the right to 'not compete with proprietary modified versions of your own work'. Let's end it here, as the intention is clear: the template is free as free beer and free speech.

  8. pombredanne NA

    The skeleton example document is just an example, i (still) don't think an example should be licensed, but should be public domain, as every user will have to make changes.

    The issue is that there is no such thing as "no license" .... implicitly no license means no license to do anything. And the public domain is not recognized in some countries such as Germany AFAIK. Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain_equivalent_license

    So for the examples, what if you use something that dedicates to the public domain or grants explicit permissions for countries without a public domain like a CC0 or unlicense license?

  9. Oliver Kopp

    GPL is viral. If one uses a single line of GPL-code, all of the own code is GPL. Thus, if I use a single line of the template, all my tex code is GPL with all consequences. The GPL does not make any exceptions to it. Even not for example code.

    Rules forbidding changes are not compliant to the GPL, because then GPL would not be an open source license and thus the open source definition (https://opensource.org/osd-annotated, paragraph 3) would not hold.

    Good to hear that the intention of the template authors is non-viral :+1:.

  10. johann sorel

    I'm barging in to expose a solution.

    I manage the project Unlicense-lib (https://bitbucket.org/Eclesia/unlicense , largest code base worldwide in public domain) and like in Germany, in France public domain isn't possible. But still the project use CC0/Unlicense and to compensate the legal problem of retarded countries, after discussion with the developers on jogamp (http://jogamp.org), we found this solution : each contributor decides what to do. And we formalized it in a document : https://bitbucket.org/Eclesia/unlicense/src/tip/license/Additional-Licenses.txt?at=default&fileviewer=file-view-default

    Quote :

    This file contain additional licenses ONLY in the case the legal jurisdiction do not 
    reconize the concept of Public Domain which main idea is defined by the documents :
    - UNLICENSE.txt
    - CC0.txt
    
    While the following additional licenses are considered legal they do not
    properly define the true intent of the authors and contributors of the project.
    That is why each author or contributor has to append himself each additional license.
    
    Authors agree on the fact the additional licenses are more restrictive then the 
    Public Domain, therefore any other or future license which would get closer to the definition
    of Public Domain is also by definition approved by the author.
    

    I believe a lawyer could have a word or two to say but developers who make public domain code are altruists and they don't care :) Public domain always win even if it's 70 or 120 years after, so don't waste you time with licenses, go public. It's not like you will make any money with gpl, it's just selfishness.

    There are so many dead projects out there with various licenses, lost on code hosting sites for over a decade and we can't use them because of the licenses, when by chance I manage to contact the authors, the answer if often 'sure go ahead, make it public' but it's unfortunately only a small part...

    Most people just don't understand licenses, like tutorials or code samples in GPL, that's a non-sense.

  11. André Miede reporter

    Sorry for my long silence on this topic, I am still confused and trying to make some sense (and actions) out of this. Some years ago, I even had the postcardware stuff in there in addition to the GPL, but some lawyer complained with CTAN.

    Will look into this and come up with a solution. So long, I agree 100% with Ivo that we would not like to compete with proprietary modified versions of our own work, but that the whole template is free as free beer and free speech. Postcards are still highly appreciated ;-)

  12. André Miede reporter

    I still don't understand the legal side in detail. However, I added a note to the documentation for clarification. This should make our/my intentions clear and resolve this issue.

  13. Dave Howcroft

    I have started writing my PhD thesis and am now thinking that I will need to choose a different template (based on that same Stack Exchange post: https://opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/2735/gpl-licensed-latex-template-implications-for-resulting-work).

    Given that GPL is supposed to be viral, I am not convinced that Master- und Doktorarbeit is safe from the GPL if people use the template. So far I added commentary to my thesis repo to say that the original template is GPL but my thesis text is not, but just because I say it doesn't make it true.

    If it's not licensed under LPPL or something which clearly does not require me to allow my text to be shared under the GPL, then I'm afraid I'll have to find a different (likely inferior 🙁) template to use. Where in the documentation is your clarification? And have you had a lawyer confirm that in conjunction with the GPL it creates some kind of dual licensing arrangement which makes the template safe to use?

  14. Ivo Pletikosić

    Is it the LaTeX code you want to share with the public or is it the pdf? If it's the LaTeX code, that could be considered a derivative work (your template based on someone else's). If it's the resulting PDF, have no fears, the contents is all yours. An analogy: you get a knitting machine (LaTeX) and obtain a GPL knitting recipe on punch cards (classicthesis template); the sweater you make (pdf) is only yours, as is the punch card. You can make as many sweaters as you want, and share them with whoever. You're allowed to use and modify the punch cards the way you want, for your personal use, but not to distribute/sell a copy of the original or modified punch cards unless you do that under the GPL. Andre's clarification is in the new (develop branch) Chapter1.tex and in the official response above.

  15. Dave Howcroft

    Thanks for the pointer to the develop branch--I had only looked in master!

    I still have my concerns, based on this section of the Stack Exchange post discussed earlier:

    Now, let's look at the compiled pdf. The compiled pdf is the result of the compilation of the tex. Thus, it is comparable to the binary resulting from a compilation using a "typical" C compiler. The FAQ is Can I release a modified version of a GPL-covered program in binary form only?. The answer states that the source code the PDF is resulting from also has to be made available.

    Especially when you consider that our 'text' will of course also contain LaTeX macros (i.e. code), which makes the distinction between text and code in LaTeX-land nontrivial.

    That said, the new statement, included in the develop branch, does make me feel more comfortable using the template, especially if it has been explicitly approved and accepted by all contributors.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond---I know licensing is a special kind of hell, especially when you just want to make useful things and share them.

  16. Johannes Böttcher

    Take some pictures with your phone and make a cool slideshow for the wedding of your friend using some software. Does the slideshow now fall into the same license the slideshow software has?

    Welcome to template and licensing hell.

  17. Dave Howcroft

    Isn't that what the LPPL tries to avoid by explicitly listing files which cannot be modified without triggering the License?

    Even then, though, that is only really good for STY files or stuff that won't be modified by users. Providing a full template, with example chapters, abstract, etc, to be replaced seems trickier...

  18. Johannes Böttcher

    yes. that is why i think this screwed. I think you cannot put a copyright to a sentence (or several sentences and an example figure). It is just messy.

  19. André Miede reporter

    Thanks for Johannes and Ivo for their clarifications. The official statement will be in the next release and can now be found in the develop branch. In the future, I hope we can untangle the .sty and the template and, thus, make also progress with the license hell.

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