[SciPy-dev] [Fwd: Re: license status of your code on netlib]

David Cournapeau cournape@gmail....
Fri Sep 11 06:30:02 CDT 2009


On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 7:47 PM, Robin <robince@gmail.com> wrote:
> At the risk of deviating off topic - while we're talking about
> licenses I was wondering if I could solicit some opinions.
>
> In my academic area there is a move towards groups releasing toolkits
> and packages for use by the wider community, and most of these refer
> to it as 'open source', but they are usually distributed under strange
> licenses. Some examples:
>
> http://find.bccn.uni-freiburg.de/?n=Main.License
> http://neurodatabase.org/src/license/
> http://www.ibtb.org/Home/toolbox-downloads#currentversion
> http://www.nest-initiative.org/index.php/Software:License
>
> I guess I wondered what people thought about this.

This is bad in general, but people often have little choice, because
those licenses often are imposed by the legal dpt or similar from the
university/research institude in my experience.

> I'm looking for
> convincing arguments for people to stick to standard open source
> licenses where possible. I think the general impression from the above
> is that in most cases GPL would be more suitable than BSD - since they
> specifically want to prevent commercial exploitation.

There is this:

http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2008/05/standing-against-license-proliferation.html

I think a quite strong argument, besides license compatibility, is
that few licenses are actually tested in court. I trust the GPL quite
a bit, since it has been written by people who knew about what they
were doing, and the BSD is well trusted as well. If someone violates
my license under the GPL, I can have some little hope that the FSF
will help me.

Writing your own license has nowhere near those guarantees.

> But what do
> people suggest about the citation clauses and things like that?

I don't think it is very useful - I doubt that people who are not
willing to cite your work will do so because you have a license in
your software, and it is not like you will sue someone because they
did not cite your work. I think it is a vain attempt at circumventing
a basic lack of ethics.

I also wonder whether a citation clause would not bring the same kind
of trouble as the advertisement clause in the old BSD.

cheers,

David


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