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Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software

From: Uwe Dippel
Subject: Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 15:54:18 +0800
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20090817)

Though I do think we had plenty of opinions here, I still feel to add to the discussion, since we seem to have two different items on our hands:
1. Relicensing under BSD terms
2. ToS limiting downloads to specific users only

Both should not be mixed up. For 1., we need an expert in law and licensing to find out if that is possible (and to all what I know, it is). Of course, the original contributor would have to agree, yadda-yadda. Could the original contributor re-license again under GPL (or whatever she wants)? The answer is quite undisputed and 'Yes'. For 2., I am afraid, I would not see any reason why Mathworks could not restrict their downloads. I for one, can easily write an user agreement on my site, that the visitor does not run Safari, or is disallowed otherwise. I could add that the images on my side may only be used for editing when GIMP is used. And I could host OpenBSD 4.6, juridically prohibiting downloads to anyone, except the client was running Vista. I wouldn't even argue that the latter was against fair use. What Mathworks cannot do, is change the license on their own account. What Mathworks is trying to do here, is Embrace and Extinguish. It might backfire, though, because on both sides of the big license divide (GPL and BSD), people are sensitive to taking, using, selling, and not giving back. I don't think that the majority of BSD-licensed projects will be very happy with the activities of Mathworks. On the longer run, even the genuine, and apolitical users of Mathworks might become unhappy, when finally downloads become chargeable, or impossible through binding access to a legally valid licence.


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