[SciPy-user] Enthon for the Mac

Fernando Perez Fernando.Perez at colorado.edu
Tue Nov 23 23:07:32 CST 2004


John Hunter wrote:

>   VTK has a generous open-source copyright modelled after the BSD
>   license. Yes, you can use VTK in commercial products. The only
>   caveat is that if you use any classes (there are a small number) in
>   the VTK/Patented directory in commercial application, you will want
>   to contact the patent holder (listed in the class header) for a
>   license. The complete text of the copyright follows.
> 
> To me the key phrase is using classes "in commercial application".  I
> read (past tense) "application" to mean a computer program that you
> sell to people, eg, MS Word.  I (now) see there is an alternative
> meaning of "commercial application", the generic one, "the ability to
> use learned material in new and concrete situations".
> 
> Do you agree that the reading of this license hinges on how you
> interpret the phrase "commercial application"?  If you read it in the
> sense of a program you want to sell, an "application" in geek
> parlance, it is fairly permissive in a commercial environment.  If you
> read it in the non-geek sense of using learned material in a new and
> concrete situation, it is fairly restrictive.

I'd really like to encourage all those interested in this discussion to go to 
the link Robert posted:

http://www.vtk.org/Wiki/ITK_Patent_Bazaar

It is _very_ worrisome.  It's not 100% clear to me from that link exactly how 
the Supreme Court ruled, since it says that it _did_ rule, but the Science 
excerpt only mentions 'asking the court to review a lower court decision'. 
I'm sure that someone used to searching case law could answer this in 2 minutes.

But from that page, it really appears to me (despite my wanting to share 
John's position), that Robert's prudence is here well founded.  Given that in 
this country people will throw lawsuits into the wind just to see where they 
land, I wouldn't be surprised to see someday down the road one of us sued for 
writing a python app which exposes a patented algorithm.  Not because any of 
us is rich individually, but because Enthought, the University of Chicago, U. 
Colorado, or whatever, are potentially deep pockets to go after. 
Unfortunately, that's how those vultures think...

Cheers,

f



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