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Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software

From: John W. Eaton
Subject: Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 15:23:12 -0500

On 11-Feb-2010, Jordi Guti rrez Hermoso wrote:

| 2010/2/11 Richard Stallman <address@hidden>:
| >    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.
| >
| > I hope they did not convince anyone to relicense to one of the BSD
| > licenses (there are two of them!).  Can you tell?
| At last one person was affected:

Quoting from the blog entry you linked to:

  I was disappointed that they did not let me keep my existing
  submission under GPL. At times I was kinda angry. Later on in mid
  June they sent an another e-mail which was much more forceful and
  made me even more mad.


  This led me to express my frustration to my brother who makes his
  living writing proprietary software. After a lengthy argument, Yaadi
  Yaadi Yaaaa, he convinced me that BSD license is much more effective
  form of open-source license compare to the GPL for my particular
  case. Since I have no interest in maintaining my code anymore, it
  would be beneficial to release my code as a BSD license because
  there is a possibility that someone paid to write codes will
  maintain it (unlike me).

  Effective July 17, I re-licensed all my submissions, to MATLAB
  central, to BSD open-source license. All my submission can be found

First, I suppose that when your trusted advisor is someone who "makes
his living writing proprietary software", then this advice is not too

It's unfortunate that this person decided that his best option was to
switch to the BSD license, especially given that he thinks that doing
so is more likely to result in someone else "paid to write codes"
coming along to maintain the code.  I don't know why that wouldn't
also happen if the code were distributed under the terms of the GPL.
There are plenty of examples of community maintained software
distributed under the terms of the GPL, aren't there?

It seems more likely that if someone "paid to write codes" has an
interest in maintaining his software, they will not hesitate to also
relicense the code and make it proprietary with no notice or
compensation of any kind to the original author.  That is after all
what the MathWorks FAQ about the new licensing scheme tells people is
legal and so seems to be encouraging people to do.


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