[SciPy-user] Re-releasing Python Equations under a new license?

Matthew Vernon matthew at sel.cam.ac.uk
Fri Jan 19 11:25:36 CST 2007


> This is an issue I have noticed that the python science world has VERY
> strong opinions about . . . and I was hoping that maybe people would
> answer my final questions before becoming a BSD'er ;-)

I'm a GPL person myself.

> In John Hunters very good pitch, I find his main points being:
> 1) GPL generally can not be comfortably/legally used by companies, so
> you cut off these developers needlessly.

That's not entirely true; for example, companies could agree to pay  
you to let them release your code under a non-GPL licence. Also, some  
companies do work on GPLd code (e.g. Ubuntu) - if their business  
model doesn't rely on creating proprietary software and selling it,  
then there's no reason for them not to use GPL code.

There's a side-point about whether it's good to encourage non-free  
software to be used in science. I would always advocate doing science  
with free software wherever possible [that discussion really is for  
somewhere else. Maybe I should blog about it ;) ].

> 2) The safety that the GPL offers is a straw man, as in general
> companies do not steal from the community.

This isn't true. Microsoft uses BSD-licenced code, for example:

Much of Mac OS X is based upon BSD-licenced code.

It's not uncommon for this to happen, although in fairness some BSD- 
licence proponents see this as a good thing.

> 3) GPL is generally used by developers without thinking about the
> above, and they use it because it is popular.

Now this really isn't on. Many developers (like myself) chose to use  
the GPL, because we think that it's model of free software is  
superior to the BSD-licences'.

As close to a balanced piece on the topic as I can find is:



Matthew Vernon MA VetMB LGSM MRCVS
Farm Animal Epidemiology and Informatics Unit
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge

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