Document formats (was: To the keepers of the holy grail of Open Source)

Ben Tilly ben_tilly at
Tue Jan 23 19:53:30 UTC 2001

Rick Moen <rick at> wrote:
>begin Ben Tilly quotation:
> > OK, so it is not open source.  And before anyone points me at standard
> > GPLed packages for TeX, allow me to point out that Knuth's software is
> > under a license that does not permit modifications.  IANAL, but AFAICS
> > if you incorporate work which you are not allowed to modify into GPLed
> > software, then you have no right to permit modifications as required
> > by section 2 of the GPL, and under section 7 you are then not allowed
> > to distribute the GPLed work as a whole.
>LaTex is "based on" Knuth's work in the sense that it implements the TeX
>design, but my understanding is that it is not a derivative work in a
>copyright sense, but rather was written separately by Leslie Lamport,
>and is now maintained by the LaTeX3 Project

My understanding is that it is built on top of TeX using
facilities built into TeX explicitly to allow more
complex standards to be built on top of TeX without any
changes to TeX itself.  (Which could then be frozen.)

>I could be mistaken, but am basing my comments on a quick search
>of the online FAQs and other documentation.  (I haven't examined the
>copyright notices on LaTeX's source packages.)

for confirmation.  See also for
evidence that there is at present no plan to remove the
dependency upon TeX.

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