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Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2010 17:01:40 -0500

I like your plan, but there are a few points in the message that are
vital to change.

     The BSD license allows adding such restrictions, so we are
    effectively unable to use your code in Octave when downloaded from the
    MathWorks service.

We must not say that.  We don't know for certain that their
restriction is legally effective.

As a general principle, NEVER publicly grant validity to controversial
adverse legal claims.  By such an act you can lose the right to
contest them later!

Thus, we should not say anything about the legal situation -- about
whether MathWorks' attempt is legally valid.  There is no need to
speculate about that.  Instead we should talk about the plain facts:
what Mathworks is TRYING to do.  That is what these contributors will
be angry at, and there is no doubt about those facts.

Once we avoid commenting on the real legal situation, we have no need
to say anything like this either:

    The above represents our best understanding of the legal situation
    regarding the File Exchange service.  If you believe our understanding
    is inaccurate or have any further doubts regarding the service, we
    encourage you to contact MathWorks as the author asking for
    clarification and provide us with any useful information you may
    collect to help us clarify the issue.

In addition to this,

    We therefore kindly ask you as the author of the code to provide us
    with a copy of the software that is free from this restriction, under
    the BSD license or any free software license of your choice. We intend
    to make your software part of the OctaveForge project so that it can
    be used freely with GNU Octave or for other purposes.

we should make a suggestion to the author: if he did not intend this
sort of restriction to be placed on the use of his code, he should
rebuke Mathworks and say he does not want his code distributed there.

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