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Is this an Octave compatible license?

From: John W. Eaton
Subject: Is this an Octave compatible license?
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2001 14:18:53 -0500

On  5-Sep-2001, E. Joshua Rigler <address@hidden> wrote:

| Is the following copyright statement, from a library I am linking to,
| compatible with Octave and/or GPL?  It seems rather simple, but I can't
| see any problems.
| *****
| Copyright 2001
| National Space Science Data Center
| NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
| This software may be copied or redistributed as long as it is not sold
| for profit,

That requirement would be in conflict with the GPL.

| but it can be incorporated into any other substantive
| product without any modifications for profit or non-profit.

This statement seems poorly worded at best.  Does it mean that
modified versions of the software may not be distributed?  If so, that
is clearly in conflict with the GPL, which requires that users be able
to get and modify the source code.

| This is from the NSSDC's CDF library, which I've been using to develop
| an Octave toolset for accessing CDF data files.  I guess I'm curious in
| case the toolset I'm developing is ever incorporated into the Octave
| sources.  I would imagine it wouldn't be necessary to include the CDF
| libraries, but rather autoconf, or whatever, could check for their
| existence before compiling the appropriate functions.

If the license of some software is not compatible with the GPL and you
create and distribute the interface glue to make it possible for
Octave to link to it, and then simply ask the user to do the linking,
the FSF contends that this action is the same as if you had
distributed all the parts linked together.  I believe the reason that
they maintain this position is because to do otherwise would make the
GPL quite ineffective (people could do just about whatever they want
with GPL code, so long as they could write interfaces to non-free


Octave is freely available under the terms of the GNU GPL.

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