[SciPy-dev] Scikits and stuff

Robert Kern robert.kern@gmail....
Fri Dec 28 17:49:07 CST 2007

Anne Archibald wrote:
> On 28/12/2007, Travis E. Oliphant <oliphant@enthought.com> wrote:
>> All I'm saying that the distinction between the licenses that impose
>> restrictions on what you do with your own code that depends on them and
>> licenses that don't do that is important enough to warrant a name-space
>> division.
> I think this is the key point. You think there are lots of these
> people, and they are important. Others think there are not many of
> these people and making them work harder is fine.
> I wonder if the difference of opinions is largely a difference of
> ideas on what non-BSD licenses allow.
> In particular, you talk about "restrictions on what you do with your own code".
> My interpretation is that if I am writing some scientific code and I
> want to work with numpy/scipy/scikits/what have you, I may do one of
> two things:
> * Write python code that simply imports some packages and uses
> functions/classes from them.
> * Extract and modify source code from the library to produce a version
> of numpy/scipy/the scikit that can do more.
> As I understand the notion of "derived work", the latter is a derived
> work of the library and so the GPL (for example) forces me to release
> my modifications unde the GPL. But (as I understand it), the former is
> *not* a derived work of the scikit, and so my code can be under any
> license I wish. Is this correct?

There is no case law to decide this. The law itself is unclear. However, the FSF
considers both instances an area where you must release the whole code under a
GPL-compatible license. Since the FSF is the author of the GPL, most programmers
who release their code under the GPL follow this interpretation as well. The
programmer's interpretation is the most important one (since at least US law
holds as most important the shared understanding of the license by the licensor
and the licensee); the FSF's interpretation is only important because it is the
most common.

Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
 that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
 an underlying truth."
  -- Umberto Eco

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