I have written a non-trivial scientific text for university. It is written in Latex and I want to make the source available under GPL (v3 if that matters) so other can learn from my Latex skills. However I the GPL states it should not be used for texts, so I am considering the use of CC BY-SA for the text itself.

Is the text of the document considered to be generated fom the code, even if it appears almost literally in the code?

  • 1
    Are the LaTeX code and the text intermixed in the same file, or did you create a custom package for the LaTeX code? Commented May 17, 2018 at 17:36
  • If you just want others to be able to learn from what you've written, you can simply reserve all copyright. Open source does not require a Free Software license.
    – Rob Rose
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 3:47
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau The code is in the same files as the text. I do not have a custom package or something.
    – corvus_192
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 9:24
  • @RobRose: As the term "open source" implies for most people a free software license, can we assume that you meant "published source code" in your comment? Commented May 18, 2018 at 9:49
  • 2
    How about making a LaTeX template version GPL (Just put in "lorem ipsum" text or similar instead of your actual scientific research), and then make the version which includes your actual text manuscript CC-BY-SA.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


The GPL is a copyright license and copyright only covers a concrete tangible expression. Which would include the content.

If you want to have others learn from or reuse your LaTeX content, split it out in a package and/or document class.

I have created frameworks for typesetting complex documents in LaTeX and negotiated a setup where I split out all of the layout-specific stuff (including proprietary fonts) into a document class kept private to the customer and all the general mechanisms into a number of packages released as Free Software (under the GPL, incidentally). I have had contact with the actual documents processed in that manner just for the sake of debugging.

LaTeX makes it comparatively straightforward to split material into different licensing domains appropriate for the kind of intended reuse, making the actual "document" contain basically only content.

If you split out your work along such lines, licensing the different parts/aspects under different licenses becomes feasible, with the conceptual "content/structure" split actually being traceable to separate files and copies.

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