Some of you may have noticed the launch of the Python Journal a while
back. Due to artistic differences, the journal has now been re-launched
as The Python Papers. It is available under a Creative Commons License,
something we felt was appropriate given its nature. Many here commented
that this was important to them, and it is important to us also.
For a fuller description of what we hope the journal to be, I re-create
my inaugural blog posting at the end of this email, or it can be found
online here: http://pythonpapers.cgpublisher.com/diary
Some of you had a number of specific points to raise, which I can now
answer properly since launching under our own banner.
1.) It takes too many clicks to download.
A) We know, but it's like that to save our server. We will be
publishing to a number of online archives, back-issues may be
back-linkable from those.
2.) Is it free?
A) Yes, as in beer and as in freedom. Creative Commons 2.5
Noncommercial, attribution, share-alike.
3.) Can I have an HTML version?
A) No, we like it pretty.
4.) Why not try (insert favourite thing here)
A) We will. Thanks for the fish.
" Volume 1, Edition 1 makes history
Welcome to The Python Papers. This journal, small though it is,
represents the careful efforts of a small group of Python enthusiasts
who are keen to form a better community in which developers may work.
As Editor-In-Chief, my role is manifold, but my goals are to improve
the level of connectedness of Python developers, and in so doing
improve my own developer experience.
The entire editorial board has put time into making this publication
something which will hopefully lead to a buildup of momentum, fuelled
by the enthusiastic involvement of others who find Python as exciting
as we do.
The current issue contains one academic, peer-reviewed article, one
industry article, and a list of events coming up in Melbourne,
Australia. We would like to expand this list significantly. We offer
our services in organising, collating and reviewing submitted content
such that Python developers around the world may participate in the
creation of something bigger than all of us, for the benefit of all of
us. It may be a small journal, a little thing really, but all are
welcome, and we look forward to getting to know our readers through the
Please download the first edition, and consider both what it is and
what it might be.
For those of you looking to publish an academic paper as a part of
coursework or for interest's sake alone, we can offer a formal review
process which will meet those guidelines while preserving the goals of
freedom of information and community spirit.
Those who are using Python in their work may like to consider using the
journal as a means of expressing successes or frustrations with either
the language itself or specific applications. We may be able to offer
code reviews and style guides, and would be happy to hear about and
help propagate news of what is happening so that everyone can take an
For those who would like a reliable source of information, The Python
Papers presents a unique and current view into the state of Python at
To all of you, welcome!
Congratulations - it looks very professional.
*But*, PDF is an abhorrent format unless you expect people to print it.
Your download system almost certainly guarantees that the content won't
be indexed by search engines and so is much less likely t obe found by
people who will find it interesting and useful.
Make sure annnouncements make their way onto PlanetPython (if they're
As for the online archives, a number of journal achives will contain
the journal, so hopefully Google will pick those up. However, I take
your point about searching. Having the archives appear under
"pythonpapers.org" would mean that the search results would return a
consistent location, which is probably a good thing.
I will be exploring further options on this front as they are
suggested. I intend to keep PDF as the "primary" format at this stage,
although there is nothing preventing us from pursuing other options
We will also be looking for collaborators and link exchanges to boost
quality and build the community. We would love to help bring together a
people who may be working on individual blogs or websites and perhaps
encourage them to work directly with others. If we can generate enough
high-quality content, I think that is the most important thing.
Convincing people to help up build up might be difficult, but on the
basis that people are currently doing it themselves without assistance,
they might prefer to be given some help in this process -- help in the
form of article editing, an audience, etc.
We have two proposals so far for the next issue, both of high quality,
but it would be great to come out with a bumper issue which would start
grabbing people's attention. Now that we have our ISSN set up, we're a
bona fide journal, but before we start mouthing off, it would be great
to have a more established track record. To do that we need to come up
with a decent shot at our next issue...
google seems to convert them when they end up in the engines
has a list of converters
But it looks like it's a noncommercial-use-only license, making it
impermissible to re-use the article contents in, say, expanding the
2.) Is it free?
A) Yes, as in beer and as in freedom. Creative Commons 2.5
Noncommercial, attribution, share-alike.
Free as in beer, certainly yes. However, the noncommercial
restriction prevents it from being free as in freedom, according to
the folks who first drew the distinction:
You may have paid money to get copies of free software, or you may
have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of how you got your
copies, you always have the freedom to copy and change the software,
even to sell copies.
Free software does not mean non-commercial. A free program must be
available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial
distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer
unusual; such free commercial software is very important.
Thanks v. much for the comments. Not a week goes by that this
limitation doesn't irk me. All I can say is that I feel your pain, and
also I really appreciate the response, because the project succeeds
only according to the enthusiasm that can be generated.
So, why aren't we publishing in HTML and not worrying about PDF?
* Document lodgement in online archives. PDFs are a nice bundled
format which preserves formatting, paging etc, isn't resolution
* Page numbers and tables of contents
* Lack of a WYSIWYG gui for advance HTML layouts fully supporting
all browser differences.
* Source application is currently OpenOffice, which *definitely*
doesn't support good enough HTML output.
* If you say LaTex, I'll eat your brain. Or my hat. Unless I'm
seriously underrating it, but I don't think so.
* Scribus crashed multiple times when I was testing it out using on
our first version. I think it's too big.
In my explorations, I have found:
* pdf2html is a lame duck
* html2pdf can't be done
The only possibility is going from something like odt to both PDF and
html, but you seriously lose out in using OpenOffice to generate the
HTML. I haven't been able to identify a truly working upstream
application from which both HTML and PDF can be derived.
PDF2ASCII works okay, but you lose your images.
Docbook format appears to be a possibility, but it lacks a good GUI
for editing in, so you're talking raw XML. OpenOffice claims to
support it, but I couldn't get it to work properly.
Article submissions need to be handled in a variety of formats,
usually word or OpenOffice are used, for example.
It might be possible using Python and ReportLabs to *write* something
which would support a layout which could be translated into HTML and
PDF without a major loss of quality, but this is a major project in
its own right. It would also require that authors make proper use of
sections and heading options rather than just fiddling with the font
Trust me, I thought about it. It still bugs me. It will probably bug
me forever. At this stage, the only viable options I can see are to go
to HTML as the primary format, increase the workload involved in
typesetting and layout, and abandon the idea of a print-friendly
layout, or to continue with the current situation despite its
If anyone has any good ideas for how to cope as a publisher with these
difficulties, I'm all ears. I want something that Just Works. If
there's a Good Way to Do Things, I'll happily adopt it.
For OpenOffice, a friend wrote a little Python script that colourize a
Python source inside a document. I think It will be possible to write
your own for HTML output, but the ooo API docs aren't well documented
Please consider using S3, coral cache, or similar to distribute, if the
server limitations are a cause of fewer people reading.
I'd be happy to help you get going with S3 if you like, otherwise,
coral CDN couldn't be simpler to use (if a bit unstable).
Why? It is a suitable solution to this problem. You can produce
unformatted content, then produce pdf and html pages from it.
Licenses are too complicated. I don't believe a license exists which
meets the demands of all clients, however should I be wrong on this
count, nothing prevents us from using it in future editions.
Also, copyright is always held by the original authors, so the works
may be relicensed if necessary. We are still working on the copyright
agreement with future authors, however at this stage all we are asking
from them is the same license which covers the journal.
I'm not a true expert in this area, although I'm of course vaguely
aware of the GPL and CC. When choosing a license, the editorial board
was interested in finding something that could be easily assimilated by
authors, and that reflected a general encouragement of the
dissemination of information.
The point about not being able to be re-used by e.g., the Python
documentation website, is a bit of a thorn in my side as I had hoped
that we had chosen something which would allow the information to flow
through the community.
Perhaps people could comment on the following proposition -- if an
organisation is Not for Profit, its dealings are therefore
The adobe online version crashed on the PDF I sent it, which may be
fractionally different from the one currently available.
I haven't tried the others, but I don't feel good about it. However,
maybe I should try a few... If anyone here feels like trying and has
any success, I'd be happy to hear it.
Sure, LaTeX probably has some way of producing a reasonable layout, or
at least TeX will be able to do it, but by then you're in a sea of
backslashes and eating the factory that makes the hats.
P.S. I know it's a bit unfair to pour scorn on LaTeX - after all, if I
were writing a long report or paper, I'd probably consider using it
(with LyX, I imagine) - but dealing with layout issues in the W3C
family of technologies (CSS, XSL-FO, anything using the same basic
layout model) is a more attractive predicament, despite the
occasionally bizarre and generally lengthy specifications.
> Yes, it's true that you can't resell copies of The Python Papers for
> personal profits, but you may derive from it, reproduce and
> propagate it. You're quite right to point it out.
Then please revise the false statement that the publication is "free
as in beer and freedom", or make it true by releasing the documents
under a license that does grant conventional free-software freedoms.
\ "They can not take away our self respect if we do not give it |
`\ to them." -- Mahatma Gandhi |
I thought I just had. In what way does the statement "Yes, it's true
that you can't resell copies of The Python Papers for personal profits,
but you may derive from it, reproduce and propagate it" not provide
such a revision and clarification? Seriously, let me know what exact
statement you feel needs to be made, and I will endorse it accordingly
if it is accurate.
For my part, I don't see that there are ethically serious restrictions
on the freedom of use of the information contained within The Python
Papers. Call it "mostly free" if you like. There's no such thing as
complete freedom of information anyway, and we have done the best we
It's not software. The GPL is not the only license which preserves the
free use of the information containted within and I don't think there's
any contradiction in what we are doing...
We considered releasing under the GPL, but felt that we wanted to
preserve two things which don't seem to be provided by it:
* Rights of the author to attribution as may be expected and desired
of an academic publication. The GPL doesn't seem appropriate for
disseminating the work of a single author.
* Rights of the author to have their words presented
* Opportunity for the author to commercially license their works to
other vendors. By choosing the Share Alike restriction, we have
encouraged the free dissemination of research information without
affecting its commercial use. It seemed to be the best middle ground
between taking a strong ideological position on either side that would
be bound to put people off side. It preserves some rights for the
author while still allowing a substantial amount of free re-use.
* Reputation as an unbiased, financially disinterested group. By
distributing under the license we chose, we hoped to establish our
Your email indicates a possible concern that we are doing something
untoward -- this was not at all intended, nor is it true.
Oh, and I should have gone back and revised that 'two' up to 'four'.
Looks damn good!
The phrase "free as in freedom" is commonly understood differently from
the way you are using it. Free as in freedom usually grants the right
to distribute for a fee. Many Linux distributors depend on that right;
otherwise they wouldn't have the right to sell CDs.
IMHO your licensing terms are fine; you don't need to switch from the CC
license. Just avoid the term "free as in freedom", since the Free
Software Foundation has assigned that phrase a very specific meaning.
Agreed. It should also be noted that Debian - amongst the strictest
with regard to software and content licensing - do not regard the CC
licences as being "free as in freedom":
Consequently, it may be appropriate to remind authors to also make
their works more widely available under a licence that may permit
further distribution, if that is desirable.
P.S. I still don't really understand why the FSF unreservedly
recommends the Free Art licence when it has a "choice of law" clause
that has prevented things like the GPL-compatibility of other licences
in the past.
Bah. FSF is not an arbiter of the language. People whose idea of
"free" differs from FSF's still need to differentiate it from the
monetary sense of the word free.
> On 11/25/06, Jerry Hill <malac...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 23 Nov 2006 15:09:11 -0800, tleeuw...@gmail.com
>> <tleeuw...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> > Yes, it's true that you can't resell copies of The Python Papers for
>> > personal profits, but you may derive from it, reproduce and propagate
>> > it. You're quite right to point it out.
>> My problem with this is that I can't use anything in your publication
>> when working on commercial software. If I were to derive code from
>> something in the Python Papers, my understanding is that I would be
>> obligated to release it under a Creative Commons license. In fact,
>> even if all I do is read an article and then incorporate concepts from
>> it in my code, my understanding is that I may be creating a derivative
And how do you think this is different from any other publication? That
Python Papers is under a CC licence is a red-herring.
>> Since the code that I write for work belongs to my employer, and may
>> someday be sold, I need to be careful about the licensing issues. They
>> might not be very happy with me if I wrote software for them that
>> ended up being encumbered with a license they didn't like.
Again, how is this different from any other publication? Unless you only
read public domain publications, anything you read is copyrighted, and
your arguments apply just as much -- perhaps more so -- depending on the
licence of that publication.
As Steven mentioned -- anything you can read is copyrighted. The
difference is whether is the copyright effective or enforceable. What do
I mean by this? Without copyright, there will not be plagarism. Ask
yourself this question, can you copy William Shakespeare's MacBeth and
submit it as a literary work for a Master of Literary Arts degree? I
believe the candidate will be expelled from university. William
Shakespeare's MacBeth is still copyrighted work but not "enforceable"
because it is pre-1900's work and the author had been dead for more than
50 years. Similarly, works in public domain are still copyrighted --
academically, using work in public domain without attribution (giving
credits in the form of citations) is still plagarism.
This means that everything you had read since the days of "ABC..." are
copyrighted. That includes all codes you've seen in colleges etc etc. I
am afraid that to avoid copyright altogether, as far as your work is
concerned, you might have to seclude yourself in some pacific islands
and re-discover mathematics and computer science all over again from 1 +
1 = 2, and 2 + 1 = 3, and so on. Even so, patents will still get you at
In copyright, there is fair use. There is no way of avoiding it totally
-- how many ways are there to write a list comprehension?
Copyright just says attribute credits when you use someone else's work
within the limits of fair use; otherwise you might have to pay for it in
the form of a licence, subject to the copyright owner. I believe you've
done all these in college when writing your essays.
I believe in most cases, a simple declaration like "This function is a
re-implementation (or adaptation) of that found in <some periodical's
title, year, and page number>" will suffice.
Have you not read "The Python Cookbook", in book form or from the
website? How do you attribute credits when you are using the codes?
I'm not going to go through this point by point, but nearly everything you've
said is wrong.
"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
an underlying truth."
-- Umberto Eco
> If anyone has any good ideas for how to cope as a publisher with these
> difficulties, I'm all ears.
has any of the format zealots posting to this thread actually
volunteered to produce any material for your publication? if not, I
suggest ignoring them. any bozo with a keyboard can contribute stop
energy to a project, but at the end, it's always the people *doing*
things that matters.
Although you might not have intended it, I feel it is still true. You
are misappropriating terminology ("free as in freedom") from the free
software movement that means a work is licensed in a way that meets
some specific criteria, that the license you're using does not meet.
You should not use the phrase "free as in freedom". "Free as in beer"
is more accurate for the NC licenses.
> For my part, I don't see that there are ethically serious restrictions
> on the freedom of use of the information contained within The Python
There is a big rant against the CC-NC licenses on Kuro5hin:
> Call it "mostly free" if you like.
That is reasonable and if you're going to stick with the NC license,
it would be cool if you also were to descibe TPP as "mostly free", or
maybe "gratis" (as opposed to "libre") in your descriptions. "Gratis"
is sometimes translated "free as in beer", in contrast with "free
as in speech" or "free as in freedom".
> There's no such thing as complete
> freedom of information anyway, and we have done the best we can.
Well, others including the Wikimedia projects (which use GFDL) and the
PLoS journals (www.plos.org) (which use CC-BY) go further than you do,
so "we have done the best we can" sounds like an apology that "the
best you can" wasn't up to the level that those other, much more
significant projects have managed to do. Should you expect a response
other than "oh well, nice try"?
One of my desires as a free software user, for example, is to be able
to buy a new computer with a complete suite of software preinstalled
on the hard disk, including all the needed apps, development tools,
and documentation and source code for everything, and the freedom to
propagate it all in the same way. All the GNU/Linux stuff and all the
Python.org stuff, plus more general reference works like Wikipedia,
educational materials like Wikibooks, and scientific journals like
PLOS, are licensed in ways that would permit including it with such a
computer. It even includes some entertainment media like various
music downloads from Jamendo and the non-NC CC movies. But your
journal would have to be omitted.
> We considered releasing under the GPL, but felt that we wanted to
> preserve two things which don't seem to be provided by it:
> * Rights of the author to attribution as may be expected and desired
> of an academic publication. The GPL doesn't seem appropriate for
> disseminating the work of a single author.
> * Rights of the author to have their words presented
I would have suggested the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) that
Wikipedia uses, but that's just me.
> * Opportunity for the author to commercially license their works to
> other vendors. By choosing the Share Alike restriction, we have
> encouraged the free dissemination of research information without
> affecting its commercial use.
Right, the effect on commercial use comes from the NC restriction,
not the SA restriction.
> * Rights of the author to have their words presented
I'm not sure what you're getting at but if you mean no modified
versions, you need -ND for that.
> It seemed to be the best middle ground between taking a strong
> ideological position on either side that would be bound to put
> people off side. It preserves some rights for the author while still
> allowing a substantial amount of free re-use.
"Middle grounds" often combine the disadvantages of both "endpoints".
And failing to take a strong position can leave you in a weak one.
> * Reputation as an
> unbiased, financially disinterested group.
The NC licenses withhold some rights for exclusive use by the initial
publisher, releasing only a subset to users. That is usually not a
sign of disinterest. For example, Cory Doctorow's novels are
published under NC licenses, which he says is working for him as a
marketing tool. But he has a clear and undisguised financial interest
in choosing the NC license.
> By distributing under the
> license we chose, we hoped to establish our credentials.
Well, it seems to me that you're putting out yet another non-libre
publication, it's nice that it's gratis but I don't think it helps
establish credentials with FOSS users and the confusion so far may
actually be hurting.
> Your email indicates a possible concern that we are doing something
> untoward -- this was not at all intended, nor is it true.
As mentioned in another post, I feel that you're (perhaps
unintentionally) trying to attach to your publication the good
associations created by the licensing practices of the FOSS movement,
while not actually following those practices. "Untoward" might be a
slightly overstrong term, however, you are creating confusion and
maybe suffering from it yourself.
Here is the issue: people who write FOSS code and documentation often
make sacrifices (of their free time, or of potential revenue) in order
to do so. They are aware of those sacrifices and make them anyway.
So it's a bit grating to those of us who work on FOSS projects (or
even just admire them) when someone comes along and tries (even
unintentionally) to attach to themselves the recognition comes from
those sacrifices, without actually making the same sacrifices. That
may explain the reaction you're getting.
Well, the CC license is viral. According to the CC explanation of the
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license I am free to create a
derivative work, but only if I then release that work under an
identical license. When I look at the Python Cookbook, it doesn't
seem to encumber derived works the same way. Instead, the Python
Cookbook page says "Except where otherwise noted, recipes in the
Python Cookbook are published under the Python license." The Python
license is extraordinarily broad in what I'm allowed to do with it,
including reusing code in a commercial project.
> Again, how is this different from any other publication? Unless you only
> read public domain publications, anything you read is copyrighted, and
> your arguments apply just as much -- perhaps more so -- depending on the
> licence of that publication.
Yes, of course. Thus, I have to avoid using code out of any
publication with a viral non-commercial license if there's any chance
my code will be sold commercially. For the same reason, I won't take
code from a GPL'd product and reuse it in a commercial project without
getting a commercial license from the copyright holder.
By the way, I wasn't really trying to complain about the Python
Paper's choice of license. I just wanted to give my perspective on
why the licensing terms make it unsuitable for me. The copyright
holders are welcome to release their work under any terms they are
You guys are doing a great job and the CC license is fine for free
works like the Python Journal
This is very, very incorrect. :-)
You're mixing your own moral ethics with an incorrect understanding of
what copyright means...
"Free as in freedom" is not terminology; it's a way to differentiate
one of two different senses of the word "free". "Specific criteria" is
some people's idea of what freedom is, but they're not the last word on
MontyLingua might appear to be GPL-licensed, but then the author puts
some kind of non-commercial clause on top, either thinking that's what
the GPL is all about (out of confusion, perhaps), or believing that he
can limit the rights of the those who license his code. The effect is
that the code is not actually GPL-licensed at all, given the stated
conditions on distribution. See here for more discussion:
P.S. This obsession in academia for non-commercial licences is quite a
destructive force: everyone "protects" their own work yet steers clear
of other people's work, redoing what they need themselves, mostly
because they've got an eye on "monetizing" that work later on.
Consequently, the cult of the almighty dollar gets more out of it than
scientific progress does.
Which is more important to the Python comunity...
Good typesetting or good, searchable, copyable, usable information?
> Which is more important to the Python comunity...
the community definitely don't need more random usenet posters who's
only contribution is to complain whenever someone tries to do some-
thing. this thread is an embarrassment for the Python community; you
should all be ashamed of yourself.