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Re: Mathworks hosting GPL'd software

From: Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso
Subject: Re: Mathworks hosting GPL'd software
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2010 01:10:06 -0600

On 17 February 2010 22:37, asha g <address@hidden> wrote:

> I just logged into my account and notice this discussion on Mathworks hosting 
> GPL'd software.
> Could someone please explain in simple, layperson's language what is 
> happening and what
> the discussion is about.

Briefly, the Mathworks hosts free software to be used with Matlab,
much of which also works with Octave, Freemat, and others, and it's
attempting to restrict people from using the license of their choice
and attempting to forbid this software from being used freely.

In more detail, the Mathworks used to allow almost any license on
their site, even no explicit license at all, but they recently decided
to only allow the modified BSD license, which is not a copyleft
license (it allows including the free code in non-free software),
unlike the GPL which Octave and the rest of the GNU project uses,
which explicitly forbids locking up the software (and has other
provisions). Software that couldn't or wouldn't be relicensed to the
BSD was removed from their servers.

In addition, they added a clause to their website's Terms of Service
saying that the software they host is only to be used with Mathworks
software, in an attempt to lock the software to only Matlab and
disallow its use in Octave and similar, contrary to the spirit of free
software. A basic freedom is use the software for any purpose. The BSD
relicensing is an obvious step in an attempt to add more restrictions
to the free software that other people wrote and uploaded to the
Mathworks' site.

> I also did not know Richard Stallman was part of this gp till this discussion.

Mr Stallman has a knack[1] for sniffing out attacks to digital freedom
wherever they may occur. ;-)

- Jordi G. H.


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