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

Bruce Southey bsouthey@gmail....
Fri Sep 11 09:00:19 CDT 2009


On 09/11/2009 06:30 AM, David Cournapeau wrote:
> 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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>    

If you require a citation clause then your license directly fits into 
the arguments against the BSD licenses with an advertising clause. But 
you can suggest that users cite your work provided that it no way 
restricts the usage of the code.

Personally I like that I can cite a package I use beyond referring just 
to the website. For example, the neurodatabase.org should at least 
appear in Nucleic Acid Research database or web server issues (too late 
this year for database but web server is still open).

Bruce


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