[tex-live] Re: TL licensing following FSF

Juergen Fenn juergen.fenn at GMX.DE
Fri Mar 17 15:40:16 CET 2006

Frank Küster <frank at kuesterei.ch> writes:

> Sebastian Rahtz <Sebastian.Rahtz at oucs.ox.ac.uk> wrote:
>> Juergen Fenn wrote:
>>> Secondly, putting software (or whatever content) under an
>>> English-language license is not legally binding towards private users
>>> under German law -- and probably elsewhere neither. This only matters
>>> to entrepreneurs. For binding non-entrepreneurs you would have to add
>>> a German translation that is authoritative with the software. 
>> Has this idea been tested in court? not to my knowledge.
>> Legal experts may predict this interpretation of the law,
>> but when it comes before a judge they may see it differently.
> On the contrary, there is no rule in german law that a contract has to
> be in german.  

Right. We could make contracts even in Latin, if we liked.

> This might be different for "Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen", but
> which of the two a software or documentation license is is not
> clear.

...and a license such as the GNU licenses is indeed an "Allgemeine
Geschäftsbedingung" and, yes, it is a different case for these.
That's one of the reasons why KOMA-Script contains a German version of
its license.

> There has been one court ruling in favor of the GPL in germany, but this
> was just an "einstweilige Verfügung", and it wasn't against a private
> user.  The texlive project or anyone pressing DVDs of it probably
> wouldn't count as private, either.

The said decision by Landgericht München was explicitly in favour of
the GPL just *because* the case was about a contract between
entrepreneurs. It said, professional IT people usually understand what
an English license means. But it's a different case for consumers.

BTW, consumer-protection law is the same all over the European
Union. So it won't make much of a difference where you are in
Europe. The discussions in the debian-legal mostly don't consider

This is no point for GNU licenses only. It holds true for any license
that is available to the user in English only. You cannot agree to
something you don't understand for sure.


More information about the tex-live mailing list