[SciPy-User] Central File Exchange for SciPy

Bruce Southey bsouthey@gmail....
Sun Oct 31 09:01:14 CDT 2010


On Sat, Oct 30, 2010 at 9:32 PM, Fernando Perez <fperez.net@gmail.com> wrote:
> 2010/10/30 Jochen Schröder <cycomanic@gmail.com>:
>> Secondly, the argument that most Python code is already BSD, one could
>> just as well make the argument that most OSS code is GPL so use GPL.
>
> It's not an argument of majority, it's one of free flow of code across
> projects and of reciprocity and fairness.
>
> The GPL has an asymmetric relationship re. BSD code: gpl projects can
> incorporate all the bsd code they want, but bsd projects can't
> incorporate gpl code (without relicensing, which is often impossible
> when there are many copyright holders, and is in any case a major
> burden on a project).  This asymmetry is at the heart of this
> discussion: numpy, scipy, matpotlib, mayavi, ipython and most of the
> open source projects around here are BSD-licensed and it means we can
> all freely share code across all of them (and we do, very often,
> freely copy pieces from one to the other as needed, this is not a
> hypothetical statement).  In fact, I relicensed ipython from its early
> LGPL license (the one that I'm probably happiest with *personally*) to
> BSD precisely based on this argument of free flow of code across
> projects, made by John Hunter at the time.  And I'm glad I did, as
> we've been able to copy code at various points in time across projects
> without any worries.
>
> When an author takes a piece of BSD code, modifies or builds upon it,
> and makes the new work available as GPL (something I've sadly seen
> done many times), he's most certainly *not* behaving in a spirit of
> reciprocity towards the author of the original BSD code.  The BSD
> author can no longer benefit from the improvements to his code:
> despite the fact that those improvements remain open source, they are
> no longer available to him unless he relinquishes his original license
> terms and switches to the GPL.  I find that practice actually worse
> than building proprietary extensions on open source code, because when
> this is done typically companies at least are doing some other
> business-related stuff that the open source developers are unlikely to
> engage in.
>
>> Furthermore your argument also ignores the fact that if you're using
>> (ctypes, cython) wrappers around C-code you will probably be bound by
>> the licence of the C-library so some code might not have a choice.
>
> In this case obviously there's no choice and no argument either, but I
> don't think anyone here is ignoring it, as it's the most basic ground
> truth of any licensing discussion.
>
>> Finally the biggest problem I have is with the notion that forcing a
>> specific OSS choice onto developers is ok. If someone chooses a licence,
>> they have a reason to do so and it is their choice. The funny thing is
>> that the "free software crowd", often gets accused of this, however I've
>> found that often the BSD crowd is a lot worse, and often quite hostile
>> towards GPL licensing. Anyway I don't want to start a licence flamewar.
>
> Nobody is *forcing* anything onto anyone.  A community is free to say:
> if you want to use our tools, these are our terms.  This is a
> community that shares code under the terms of the BSD license and sets
> up a website for that purpose.  The rest of the whole internet is
> available to anyone who wishes to publish GPL improvements to Numpy
> and Scipy, just not on the Scipy servers :)
>
> My personal opinion is that in the long run, it would be beneficial to
> have this 'file exchange' have BSD-only code (or public domain, since
> employees of the US Federal government as far as I understand must
> publish their codes under public domain terms).  The reason is simple:
> snippets put there, when good, are prime candidates for integration
> into numpy/scipy proper.  It would be a shame, and frankly somewhat
> absurd, to have a bunch of great codes sitting on the scipy server
> that we couldn't integrate into scipy.  At least it seems so to me...
>
> Cheers,
>
> f

I support Fernando's view of the licensing because the whole point of
this 'file exchange' is about sharing.That is make life a little
easier for those that are at some mental block (for whatever reason).
Personal views are really are irrelevant in a community where people
are freely helping other people without restriction by providing code
(either complete or fixing errors). For that reason, public domain
works best for 'trivial' code and BSD for more complex code since both
allow simple inclusion into numpy/scipy. Yet for really complex code
this is probably not the place and there are other options like
scikits for that.

Bruce


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