After our long software licensing discussion on the biology-in-python list, I realized that I wanted something different in a license for scientific software.
Specifically, I would like to attach the following clause to either a BSD or L/GPL style license:
Publications relying on derivative works of this software must publish all such derivative works under this same license.
The intent is that Dr. Joe Blow, if he chooses to use and modify my software to support his data analysis or computation and then publishes his results, must republish the software with his modifications.
Has anyone seen anything like this?
I should also link to the Bayh-Dole Act, which -- for scientists -- is an extremely important law, because it grants universities copyright to source code produced under federal funding. This is why Caltech and MSU own my code, rather than the government, and it's why they can force me to release my code under the GPL.
Posted by Jonathan Eisen on 2007-09-29 at 17:25.
I want the same type of license for DATA. I have written about this but never gotten anywhere. I think it is worth raising with the Science Commons folks. See <a href="http://sciencecommons.org/">http://sciencecommons.org/</a>
Posted by Paul Boddie on 2007-09-29 at 20:50.
To make an amendment as you suggest would be, in effect, to claim that conveying the output of the software is equivalent to providing some kind of interaction with the software, and that recipients of the output have the right to receive the source code, similar to what is described in the Affero GPL version 3, section 13 (in the context of interaction over a network, however). Given the predisposition in some parts of the academic community to offer data files (and services) without any substantial indication of how they were produced (apart from hand-waving in a paper), I'd welcome an initiative like this, provided it doesn't start to have negative licence interoperability effects like the various invalid "non-commercial" amendments to the GPL that one sees from various academic software producers.
Posted by Titus Brown on 2007-10-01 at 14:33.
Jonathan, I think data is already covered to some extent, no? I realize not everyone actually adheres to the guidelines, but that needs to be enforced by the journals. Source code is a big problem for me, because it's freakin' **methodology**. Gotta reveal. Grr. Paul, I think you have put it into suitably lawerly language, although bear in mind that the requirement only comes into effect if you've actually modified the software (at least under my proposal). Does that change the language? Not sure...
Posted by Paul Boddie on 2007-10-03 at 05:38.
Titus, I believe that there are some aspects of the GPLv3 which permit developers to nominate other parties who will then provide the source code for the covered programs: <a href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses /gpl- faq.html#SourceAndBinaryOnDifferentSites">http://www.gnu.org/licenses /gpl-faq.html#SourceAndBinaryOnDifferentSites</a> What this means is that someone who doesn't modify existing software could still fall within the copyleft system by arranging for someone else - possibly the original developers - to offer the source code for that software. Applying this to an Affero GPL-style licence would mean that someone offering data produced by an unmodified program could also make a similar arrangement.
Posted by Matt on 2007-12-12 at 15:49.
Titus, this is a great idea. I work in a simulation-based community, and one of my annoyances is the idea of the Black Box computing, wherein one group will publish results and then they will be essentially unverifiable without a complete reimplementation of the algorithm -- and as I'm sure you're aware, this is non-trivial and sometimes impossible. Part of the peer review process should be code inspection, not simply inspection of the results.