[SciPy-dev] implementing IDL, Matlab, etc. functionality

Robert Kern rkern at ucsd.edu
Mon May 2 15:39:53 CDT 2005

Joe Harrington wrote:
>>Is it clear that the EULA forbids translating a limited part of a
>>user's IDL file into another syntax?
> No, a user's code is clearly not RSI's property.  However, our lawyers
> made the point that a code converter could easily be configured as a
> front-end to python, and for any program it converted 100%
> successfully, it would be a reimplementation of IDL and thus would be
> prohibited by the reverse engineering clause.  They felt that making
> even part of a partial reimplementation could be argued as being
> against the reverse engineering clause of the license, based on these
> (bogus, in my opinion) court precedents.  At least, it wouldn't be
> grounds for immediate dismissal of a lawsuit.

Could you ask your lawyers for the actual case citations?

In any case, I believe that the usual way that professionals do this 
(legally, to my knowledge, but IANAL) is to work in two teams. One team 
actually looks at the software they are trying to emulate. They do not 
write any code whatsoever; they only write a specification. The other 
team does not touch the software-to-be-emulated in any way; they only 
implement from the specification written by the other team.

If you're serious about doing these kinds of activities, consider this 
strategy and talk about it with your lawyers.

Robert Kern
rkern at ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
  Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
   -- Richard Harter

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