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Re: [OT]: Mathworks fighting the GPL

From: dbateman
Subject: Re: [OT]: Mathworks fighting the GPL
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 09:34:14 -0800 (PST)

David Grundberg-3 wrote:
> Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso wrote:
>> Apologies for the offtopic chatter, but I just noticed this as I was
>> trying to look for Emacs's Matlab mode to see if I could get some
>> ideas for Octave mode. It appears that the Mathworks only allows the
>> BSD license on their servers now, which affects much free software
>> under other licenses (in particular GPL) that they were hosting.
>> It's difficult to find exactly what happened and how because they seem
>> to have spread the word about this relatively secretly by email to
>> people with code on their servers, but they do have a FAQ:
>> This happened July last year.
>> I don't know about anyone else, but I'm deeply disturbed that
>> Mathworks is now actively fighting against copyleft.
>> - Jordi G. H.
> The permissive licensing is bad for the contributor to the benefit of 
> Mathworks (or anyone else making proprietary software). People should 
> decline using matlabcentral, it's in their own interest. This draws to 
> memory the X Consortium, which demanded permissive licensing from it's 
> contributors so that the software could be restricted at will.
> David

Different situations can make different licenses the better choice, and the
X-consortium in their goal to produce a reference model of an X server for
all developers (proprietary or otherwise) correctly chose the BSD license. I
contributed to XFree (chips driver, xgamma extension) under the BSD license
and my contributions were taken back into the Xconsortium version and I have
no problems with that. But that is just the reference design, anyone can
make their own improves to the reference design under whatever license they
want, and of course XOrg has under a GPL license (basically killing XFree

However, in the case of MathCentral of entirely removing any chance of the
user selecting their own license (MathCentral is dominant in the matlab
world for the distribution of user add-on), I agree that MathWorks is
imposing the BSD license for their own benefit. It will be interesting to
see how the Tim Davis code on MathCentral is treated (eg CXSparse, UMFPACK,
COLAMD, etc) that Tim deliberately licensed under the GPL and then sold the
code under different conditions to MathWorks (all these packages are part of
Matlab and Octave for that matter). I assume he'll promptly remove his code
from MathCentral rather than letting MathWorks steal from him


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