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Software licenses and releasing Python programs for review

 
 
poisondart
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      05-28-2005
Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the right group to post this. If not, then I
would appreciate if somebody could point me to the correct group.

This is my first time releasing software to the public and I'm wanting
to release a Python program I wrote for review (and critique) and
testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
different software licenses that are available (there seems to be
many). Since the specification for the programs is knowledge-centric
(related to linguistics), I need a group of people that are
knowledgeable in this area. Is there a place where I can advertise to
look for people who are knowledgeable in Python and linguistics?

Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
- being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
- nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)

What is the methodology that people employ to releasing software?

Thank you.

 
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Terry Reedy
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      05-28-2005

"poisondart" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) oups.com...
> testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
> different software licenses that are available (there seems to be


There is an Open Software Foundation (or something close) with a site
listing and linking to numerous OSF-approved licenses.

TJR



 
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James William Pye
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      05-28-2005
On Fri, 27 May 2005 18:50:14 -0700, poisondart wrote:
> - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
> - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


Terry mentioned OS.org, so I will not repeat that. (opensource.org)

Also, check out http://creativecommons.org.

The no-commercial use license sounds like it might be what you are looking
for. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)
 
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Ivan Voras
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      05-28-2005
poisondart wrote:

> Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
> - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
> - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


GPL does something like this, except it doesn't forbid anyone to sell
the software. Also, you do realize that if you make it freely
distributable and modifiable, you could get into the situations where
potential customers say "so why should we buy it from him when we can
get it free from X"?
 
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Robert Kern
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      05-28-2005
poisondart wrote:
> Hi,
>
> I'm not sure if this is the right group to post this. If not, then I
> would appreciate if somebody could point me to the correct group.
>
> This is my first time releasing software to the public and I'm wanting
> to release a Python program I wrote for review (and critique) and
> testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
> different software licenses that are available (there seems to be
> many). Since the specification for the programs is knowledge-centric
> (related to linguistics), I need a group of people that are
> knowledgeable in this area. Is there a place where I can advertise to
> look for people who are knowledgeable in Python and linguistics?


The NLTK mailing list might be a good place.

http://nltk.sourceforge.net

> Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
> - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
> - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


Well, this is vague. Do you want no one else to *distribute* your code
or derivatives thereof for profit? or do you want no one else to be able
to *use* the code for profit-making activities?

Either way, it's kind of rude and unproductive to ask people to spend
their unpaid time to review, critique, and test your code when only you
can make a profit from it. I highly recommend looking at the GPL. Many
of the people whom you may want to not distribute your code for profit
will probably be reluctant to use GPLed code. As a bonus, if they do,
they will have to contribute their changes back to the community under
the GPL, too, so you can incorporate them into your own code base.

--
Robert Kern
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter

 
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poisondart
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      05-28-2005
Thanks for the replies. They have been very helpful. I'll have to read
through the licenses you've listed in more detail, but the creative
commons license of which James William Pye mentions seems to be what
I'll be using.

The reason why I need people to review my code and also the ideas
behind the code is mostly for academic interest...but not necessarily
reserved to an academic audience...which is why I don't want people to
make profit from it. It uses ideas from a language--which would be
ridiculous (to me) for anybody to make profit from selling the
mechanics of a natural language.

The NLTK mailing list seems to be what I was looking for...I'll start
checking that out. Thanks for the link.

 
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Steven D'Aprano
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      05-29-2005
On Sat, 28 May 2005 16:48:44 -0700, poisondart wrote:

> The reason why I need people to review my code and also the ideas
> behind the code is mostly for academic interest...but not necessarily
> reserved to an academic audience...which is why I don't want people to
> make profit from it. It uses ideas from a language--which would be
> ridiculous (to me) for anybody to make profit from selling the
> mechanics of a natural language.


Let me toss some scenarios out there for you to think about.

You write your code, and distribute it for free. Very generous of you. I
publish for profit a computer magazine which includes a CD containing
software. I would like to include your code. Can I?

My colleague Betty compiles collections of software, tests them, weeds
out the buggy and useless programs, documents the ones that remain, and
sells the collection for profit. She would like to include your code on
her CD. Can she?

My competitor Barney tries to start a business selling your code for
profit. How long do you think he will stay in business trying to sell
what you are making available for free on your website?

My neighbour Bobby creates a game which he sells for profit. This game
includes a natural language engine allowing the game characters to
(almost) understand real language. He would like to use your code to do
this. Can he?

My business partner Billy wants to sell servers for profit. On this
server, he wants to include a collection of software for added value. He
would like to include your software. Can he?



Regards,



--
Steven

 
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poisondart
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      05-29-2005
With the exception of the example with neighbour Bobby (which directly
utilizes my code for profit, in which case is a definite no), I don't
see why your other examples should make me reconsider releasing my
software for free--in all the cases you've described, the answer should
be no.

You publish a magazine and include a CD with my code--you are using my
code to attract readers (this, I did not agree to).

The example with colleague Betty does not say whether she has debugged
my code and sold it for profit. If she does, then she will have done
something very selfish in my view--also undesirable. If she hasn't
debugged my code...what is she doing selling my property?

The competitor Barney--This is exactly what I _don't_ want. What's he
doing selling my code?

Business partner Billy is using a scheme similar to the magazine
publisher example.

I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
language when you decided to learn it?

This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
programs for profit.

Thanks,

 
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John J. Lee
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      05-29-2005
"poisondart" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
[...]
> Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
> - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
> - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)

[...]

If you believe it's feasible to get contributors to (literally) sign
over their copyright to you, consider dual GPL+commercial licensing.
Trolltech do this very successfully with their Qt GUI framework (they
also have educational licenses too, I believe, though the release of
Qt 4/Win under the GPL will presumably make those licenses redundant).

In general, people tend to find it very hard to get unpaid code
contributions if there are annoying restrictions such as prohibition
against commercial distribution of the code, which is one reason why
people pick BSD or GPL licenses. Whatever you do, pick a standard,
well known license, simply because nobody has the time or inclination
to read somebody else's pet license.

(Of course, if the contributions you're most interested in aren't
copyrightable (comment on algorithms or scientific ideas, or
high-level feedback about the implementation of your code, for
example), all this may not be a big issue.)

Though they sometimes mix, the academic world is driven by different
motivations than the open source world, of course. As someone from
the linguistics field, you're probably far better placed than we are
to know about the social environment in which your code will find
itself. Unless there's another Linguistic Pythonista here


John
 
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John J. Lee
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      05-30-2005
"poisondart" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
[...]
> I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
> The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
> people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
> language when you decided to learn it?
>
> This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
> programs for profit.


I'm a little curious about your position.

Though code encodes knowledge (hence the word, of course , the
system of concepts embodied in your code is not the same thing as the
code itself. Right?

So, firstly, I don't follow your argument there: how does it follow
from the fact that scientific and mathematical knowledge should not be
treated by the law as - in some sense - property (a moot point of
course, though I lean towards your view) that it doesn't 'make sense'
(scare quotes because I'm not sure of your precise meaning) to sell
your software for profit?

Secondly, do you think it's a bad thing for anybody to sell software
that makes use of the *concepts* in your code (provided that the use
of those concepts is not restricted by financial or other legal
means)? If so, why?


John
 
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