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I created a Github repository called luatexminimal, to provide a minimal, barebones LuaTeX setup to compile PDF documents. I had to copy a few files from my local TeXLive installation to do that:

  1. plain.tex and hyphen.tex
  2. .tfm files for Computer Modern
  3. .pfb file for Computer Modern Roman

What license should I release the code under?

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    That is a question for legal advice, which we don't give. The question is off-topic.
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 27, 2015 at 9:37
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    Check what the other files are licensed under and start your decison process with that knowledge.
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 27, 2015 at 9:37
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    All of those seem to be part of Knuth's core TeX system, in which case they carry Knuth's license ('do what you like but you must rename the files if you alter them at all, unless you are DEK'). More generally, you decide on the license for code you write, you have to respect the license for code that others write.
    – Joseph Wright
    Dec 27, 2015 at 9:48
  • @JosephWright Thank you. Is there a copy of this license on the internet? Or is it literally just what you put in quotes?
    – vyom
    Dec 27, 2015 at 9:49
  • @vyom See ctan.org/pkg/plain and the source files themselves. Knuth's code pre-dates the idea of 'licenses' (from the days when academics expected software to be distributed with acknowledgement), so it's more of a 'statement'.
    – Joseph Wright
    Dec 27, 2015 at 9:51

1 Answer 1

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The decision on what you can do with any file should be based first on reading what conditions it has attached. Whilst legal advice is off topic, the general idea that all works are copyrighted holds internationally. As such, it is up to the copyright holder to specify what you can do with the files.

For example, in the case of Knuth's plain.tex one can find at the start

% This is the plain TeX format that's described in The TeXbook.
% N.B.: A version number is defined at the very end of this file;
%       please change that number whenever the file is modified!
% And don't modify the file unless you change its name:
%       Everybody's "plain.tex" file should be the same, worldwide.

% Unlimited copying and redistribution of this file are permitted as long
% as this file is not modified. Modifications are permitted, but only if
% the resulting file is not named plain.tex.

which seems clear enough. (Note that one can argue whether Knuth's statement constitutes a license or not, but sticking to what this statement says is generally accepted as defensible.)

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    Note I've answered here as 'What distribution conditions apply to Knuth's files?' or similar is answerable I hope.
    – Joseph Wright
    Dec 27, 2015 at 10:08
  • Can we retitle the question that way?
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 27, 2015 at 10:28
  • I have edited the title lightly, but I have left the body of the question unchanged so that the discussion in the comments is still relevant.
    – vyom
    Dec 27, 2015 at 10:34
  • @JosephWright, it explicitly allows anybody some actions that the relevant law places in the hands of the copyright owner. It is a license.
    – vonbrand
    Dec 27, 2015 at 13:32

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