Part of the discussion about packaging some of the TikZ answers into a LaTeX package has centred on the issue of licensing the code. Contributions here are licensed under a CC license (see links at the bottom of the page) which isn't the best for software: even the people behind the CC licenses do not recommend its use for software. LaTeX packages are usually licensed under the LPPL (see http://www.latex-project.org/lppl/), but other free licenses such as GNU GPL (see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html) are sometimes used. Exactly how the various licenses interact is ... complicated. As the goons memorably quipped,

It's all rather confusing, really.

However, the people who answer questions retain copyright on their material and are therefore free to relicense it as they wish.

In the ensuing discussions, some have felt that the simplest thing to do is to issue a blanket declaration saying that repackaging and relicensing of their code written on this site is allowed. The purpose of this question is to allow people to publicly state what terms their code is released under. Note that this is in addition to the standard SE license terms and is designed to make it easier for people to repackage answers as desired.

There are many open source licenses out there. Some useful links are:

  • The list at gnu, including the FSF's beliefs on which are compatible with GPL.
  • The list at CTAN, including CTAN's beliefs on which are free.

Here are some comments to bear in mind when choosing how to relicense your code:

  1. The purpose of this is to make it easier for others to build on your work.
  2. GPL is probably the most popular for software in general, and LPPL for TeX packages specifically.
  3. The LPPL and GPL are incompatible.
  4. It is possible to license code under several licenses, with the choice of license being for the user to decide. Indeed, any declaration here is in addition to the CC-BY-SA license that the site automatically applies.
  5. If the issue is too confusing, there's always the option of placing the work in to the public domain

Some notes on the licenses:

  • An article on why everything should be GPL-compatible: http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html
  • There is a separate issue of attribution. Many licenses require that the code be properly (and appropriately) attributed. It is for the user (or repackager) to ensure that their reuse of code is properly compliant with the license in this, and other, ways.

When answering this question, please state the terms under which you agree to your code being reused. Sample statements follow, though you are free to adapt them as required.


Any code of mine that I publish on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ I hereby relicense under the [GPL](http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html) (version 3 or later) and under the [LPPL](http://www.latex-project.org/lppl/).

Permission to relicense:

Any code of mine that I publish on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ I hereby give permission for it to be used and released under either the [GPL](http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html) (version 3 or later) or under the [LPPL](http://www.latex-project.org/lppl/).

Public Domain:

Any code of mine that I publish on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ I hereby place in the public domain to the extent governable by law. Explicitly, I place it under the [CC0](http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC0).

  • 1
    The point about attribution is that, as I understand it, the LPPL demands an explicit attribution. GPL is used for the Context source code, and I have the impression that it is the license of choice for Context modules &c. Apr 9 '11 at 19:07
  • @Charles: That's my reading of the LPPL as well. I figure that the issue of attribution is slightly orthogonal to this discussion. Even if it's not required by a license, it's only polite to include it. Apr 9 '11 at 19:10
  • 4
    GPL is generally a bad idea for software in general, but that's a discussion for another place. It's bad for TeX code because it allows someone to incompatibly modify the code and release it under the same name. As came up elsewhere, I think the ConTeXt folks were really short sighted by refusing to consider the LPPL (or a similar idea just without the L) due to its name alone.
    – TH.
    Apr 11 '11 at 17:33
  • 3
    @TH. If you look at the discussion on 'From Answers to Packages' then Charles' version doesn't have the explicit relicensing as GPL but merely permission to relicense as GPL. Apr 11 '11 at 18:02
  • Public domain clause: Now that is crystal clear, nice that something is. Apr 12 '11 at 13:26
  • @Charles: I was going to suggest PD/CC0, by Andrew was faster. I think most code here could be reused under fair use anyway (or is to short to be protected by copyright).
    – Caramdir
    Apr 12 '11 at 16:57
  • 4
    The statement 'the LPPL and GPL are incompatible' is based on LPPL 1.2. There were a lot of e-mails exchanged between Frank Mittelbach and Debian legal (~1600) to sort things out for LPPL 1.3. Now whether LPPL 1.3 is compatible with the GPL, I have no idea :-)
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Apr 13 '11 at 15:24
  • 2
    I've said before that I'm actually surprised that the site does not make a statement that all code posted here is Public Domain. That's always been the assumption on, for example, c.t.t. (if you post it to a public forum ...).
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Apr 13 '11 at 15:26
  • 1
    @Joseph: (Re LPPL and GPL) My only source is the page on gnu.org where it says that 1.3 has resolved several issue, but it doesn't come to any conclusion. Apr 13 '11 at 17:30
  • 2
    +1 for the goons reference
    – Seamus
    May 8 '11 at 22:55
  • 4
    @Joseph and @Andrew -- re the lppl and gpl in particular, there is an article by frank mittelbach in the issue of tugboat now at the printer (32:1, pp.83-94) that covers this ground. from the abstract: "This article reflects on the history of the license, the way it came about, and the reasons for its development and content. It explains why it was chosen even though alternative free licenses have been available at least from 1990 onwards." May 13 '11 at 16:15
  • 2
    @barbara: Thanks. Almost worth registering with TUG to read it before it goes online next year. May 13 '11 at 17:59
  • 1
    @JosephWright: Public Domain is a concept you should not use - ask any copyright expert: it's very unclear. BSD is much better. And code on c.t.t. or anywhere else is copyrighted by the author and you should not use it in commercial projects unless you have a clear license from the author. Oct 29 '11 at 14:47
  • @MartinSchröder: I've asked people on c.t.t before about licenses, and got pretty short shrift. There is a strong assumption that anything posted there is 'free' in the broadest sense.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Oct 29 '11 at 14:52
  • Also, at least in here in the UK 'public domain' is clear. It means you give up your copyright, in the same way as happens when copyright expires (after a delay) after you die.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Oct 29 '11 at 14:53

37 Answers 37


Any code of mine that I publish on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ I hereby place under the LPPL, version 1.3 or later.


Any strings of characters, that I posted previously or I will post in the future to this site, automatically belong to you and are not mine. I am not responsible for any gain or loss of using them.

Please refrain from contacting me for granting royalty or attribution. I am not collecting money let alone popularity. I will do an immense deal of good, if I don't care who gets the credit for it.


Any code of mine that I have published or will publish on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ can be used under the terms of the LaTeX Project Public License either version 1.2 or, at your option, any later version. This license is granted in addition to the terms that apply by default to contents published on https://tex.stackexchange.com/.

Florent Rougon


Any code of mine that is published on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ I hereby place in the public domain to the extent governable by law, except when stated otherwise in the corresponding answer. Explicitly, I place such code under the CC0.


Any code of mine that I publish on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ I hereby place in the public domain to the extent governable by law. Explicitly, I place it under the CC0.


Any code of mine that I publish or have ever published on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ I hereby relicense under the GPL (version 2 or later) and under the LPPL.


Any code of mine that I publish on https://tex.stackexchange.com/ or any other site of the stackexchange network I hereby relicense under the WTFPL.


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