[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software

From: Judd Storrs
Subject: Re: Mathworks-hosted GPL'd software
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 03:20:13 -0500

Here are some ideas for modifications to the email/letter.

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are writing regarding the software <package name> hosted at the
MATLAB File Exchange service, provided by the MathWorks. We think your
code could be useful not only to users of MATLAB, but also to users of
GNU Octave or other similar software. Although your code is currently
available under the BSD license from the File Exchange service, recent
changes to the File Exchange Terms of Service may effectively restrict
access to your contribution to paying Matlab customers only. For this
reason we are establishing a secondary repository for user-contributed
software and invite you to submit your files there also.

MatlabCentral has been is an important community resource for users of
MATLAB and similar numerical systems. However, whether intended or
not, recent changes by Mathworks undermine this community and the
charity of MATLAB's users to Mathworks corporate benefit. We sincerely
hope it is not the intention of the Mathworks to isolate MATLAB users
from users of other numerical environments--however, recent actions
undermine important freedoms of the user community. Briefly, we
believe that new restrictions mandated by the Mathworks on licensing
of files hosted in File Exchange may limit your ability to share and
derive benefit from your work and secondary changes to the File
Exchange Terms of Service may limit access to your contribution to an
extent you may have been unaware.

One concern relates to the Mathworks decision to standardize the BSD
license for all user-contributed File Exchange software. This change
serves the corporate interests of Mathworks at your expense. Now,
should the Mathworks chose to incorporate your work into their
commercial products, they no longer have any obligation to negotiate
with you for a license nor to publicly acknowledge your contribution
nor to compensate you. Previously, your freedom to select a license
for your own work on File Exchange gave you control over the use of
your work. Control that the Mathworks is now working to subvert. This
is not merely a hypothetical concern. Your contributions may be very
valuable to Matlab. For example, Tim Davis' sparse matrix software was
distributed under the GPL on File Exchange prior to the policy change.
In fact, Mathworks recognized the value of his work and negotiated a
license to incorporate his software into Matlab rather than implement
the techniques themselves. Mathworks would not have been obligated to
negotiate, compensate or even acknowledge Dr. Davis' contributions if
his software had been BSD licensed. Dr. Davis has removed his software
from File Exchange. This diminishes the Matlab user community.

Secondly, the Mathworks has updated the MatlabCentral Terms of Service
to ban all use of the website not related specifically to using
Mathworks products. It is not clear what the intent this change
signals about the future of the File Exchange within the Matlab user
community. At the very minimum it appears that Mathworks intends to
isolate Matlab users and contributors from the knowledge, feedback,
and experience of users of Matlab competitors. But the Mathworks may
also intend to limit access to your contribution to customers--the new
Terms of Service may go so far as precluding users of other systems
from viewing, studying and adapting your software.

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.

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]