The TeX Catalogue License Definitions


Here we list the licenses used by TeX-related software as recorded in The TeX Catalogue (created by Graham Williams and maintained by the CTAN team). General information about categories of licenses is available from the GNU project.

The license conditions are not designed to restrict what may be submitted to CTAN. Rather, the license information should make life easier for redistributors of TeX and related software: in general, software under one of the non-free license terms listed below should not be included in a distribution. Most material on the archive may be used without further ado; the only exceptions are nocommercial software, (whose use in a commercial environment is forbidden), and some (but not all) shareware.

The CTAN team tries to ensure that the license information in the Catalogue is accurate, and maintains it with input from authors and others, but the sheer size of the Catalogue makes it difficult to maintain a watching brief on all licenses. Thus, while the team believes that the data presented are mostly correct, we advise careful checking if license information is to be used in ‘legally delicate’ situations.

The licenses

Free software satisfies the criteria contained in the Debian Free Software Guidelines which provides the basis of the Open Source Free Software Guidelines. This software may be freely used, modified (hence source must be available), and distributed (e.g. on distributions like TeXLive and MikTeX). It is generally copyrighted to legally protect it. Users are usually given an explicit license to copy, distribute, and/or modify the software. Authors of free software may invite users to make monetary donations if they wish, but can not oblige them to do so, or else the software becomes nonfree. Free software may rely on nonfree software for extra functionality, but provides useful functionality without that nonfree software. Further information on free software is available from GNU.

While one category would be sufficient (just ‘free’) we identify licenses, important for (La)TeX users, that satisfy common notions of free software:

apache2 Apache License v2.0
artistic2 Perl Artistic License (version 2)
bsd BSD Style License
fdl GNU Free Documentation License
gfl GUST Font License
gpl GNU General Public License
lgpl GNU Library General Public License
lgpl GUST Font Source License
lppl LaTeX Project Public License
ofl Open Font License
pd Public Domain
other-free Category for packages, whose license terms seem (to the CTAN team) to conform to the Debian Free Software Guidelines

Nonfree software is released subject to restrictions that in some way prohibit its free distribution. Because this software does not satisfy the Debian Free Software Guidelines, it will not be available for distribution by free TeX distributions such as TeX-live, MiKTeX and friends.

noinfo No information about licensing terms can be found
nocommercial Free private use but commercial use not permitted
nosell Free use but distribution for profit by arrangement only
nosource Freely distributable but source code not distributed
shareware Payment is requested if software is used
artistic Perl Artistic License (original version, now understood not to offer unconditional freedom)
other-nonfree Category for packages whose license terms are other than any of the above, but seem (to the CTAN team) not to conform to Debian Free Software guidelines.

Sets of items: finally, the catalogue recognises two other ‘license’ tags, whose purpose is to identify the status of ‘composite’ objects on the the archive.

collection A collection of similar packages
digest A digest of contributions to a mailing list or publication

Disclaimer: The CTAN team tries hard to maintain the catalogue information, but the task is a large one — extremely challenging for a small volunteer team; errors (probably) and omissions (certainly) still exist. Any contribution, or correction, to the catalogue is extremely welcome — please mail the CTAN team if you spot a problem, or can describe a package the catalogue doesn't currently mention.

Last modified: 2009-01-23 Robin Fairbairns, University of Cambridge