[SciPy-User] Matlab trademark - was: Re: SciPy-User Digest, Vol 82, Issue 49

Joe Harrington jh@physics.ucf....
Mon Jun 21 10:11:12 CDT 2010

>> rather than Wikipedia.
>Dammit - Wikipedia again.  If you think my arguments are unsound, or
>Wikipedia or the other links I sent are poorly informed on this issue,
>please say why.  Otherwise it's just patronizing.

There is no need for swearing or name calling on this list.  We are
among friends here.

I have based (non-legal) decisions on Wikipedia only to discover a
gross error that embarrassed me.  Fortunately the one time it happened
in print, an anonymous referee caught it.  When I went back to check,
the Wikipedia formula that had stood for some time had changed (it was
regarding the definition of the Bayesian information criterion; look
at the history if you care to).  I have wondered whether it was the
referee who changed it.

I find Wikipedia to be right most of the time, and often to have
excellent explanations of technical topics (sometimes better than any
textbook).  We encourage doc writers to refer to it rather than
repeating long explanations of math topics, and even over any but the
most popular reviewed texts, since it is so easily available to just
about anyone.

However, on topics with social and political implications (which might
include the legalities of information), it is often manipulated or
simply unbalanced, reflecting whatever the last editor decided to
write.  This is a well-known phenomenon on which numerous scholarly
articles have been written (you may ascertain this for yourself).  In
my opinion, the safeguards against these abuses do not (and probably
cannot) make up for the problem.

For example, a proponent of fair use *might* write all the favorable
arguments without citing key countervailing cases, and make it look
like there is nothing to worry about.  The problem with legal issues
is that a non-lawyer cannot reliably detect whether the analysis
presented is complete or not since we don't have access to or
experience with the relevant decisions that might become part of the
case history.  This is why I'm not going to play amateur lawyer and
try to evaluate the legal arguments laid out on essentially *any* web
page.  It is the job of a real lawyer to do that, by bringing out the
arguments and precedent favoring the *other* side, to see whether our
side can prevail over or sidestep them.

Certainly the lawyers looking at this issue will read the Wikipedia
article and the other items you have posted, and take them into
consideration in their research.

So at this point, I hope we can suspend this discussion, except for
posting any new resources that the lawyers might use.  Let's also stop
changing the MATLAB-related terms until we have an opinion from a
lawyer about what to change them TO.  There's no need to waste time
changing things twice.  We have plenty of work to do as it is.


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