Shoot the lawyer twice
Rich Signell (USGS) has been spearheading the use of the NetCDF Java library in MATLAB.
Apparently you can just drop the library into MATLAB and there is some
magic that makes the API available from within MATLAB. Anyway, Rich
asked MATLAB to include the library in their distribution, but MATLAB lawyers said they couldn't use it because it has an LGPL license.
After some thought, we decided that we will change the license to the same one that the netCDF C library uses, an "MIT-style license". We will make that change for the 4.0 version of NetCDF-Java, and I'll get around to changing the source header Real Soon Now.
Below is the license that might be useful explaining it.
* Copyright 1998-2008 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/Unidata
* Portions of this software were developed by the Unidata Program at the
* University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
* Access and use of this software shall impose the following obligations
* and understandings on the user. The user is granted the right, without
* any fee or cost, to use, copy, modify, alter, enhance and distribute
* this software, and any derivative works thereof, and its supporting
* documentation for any purpose whatsoever, provided that this entire
* notice appears in all copies of the software, derivative works and
* supporting documentation. Further, UCAR requests that the user credit
* UCAR/Unidata in any publications that result from the use of this
* software or in any product that includes this software. The names UCAR
* and/or Unidata, however, may not be used in any advertising or publicity
* to endorse or promote any products or commercial entity unless specific
* written permission is obtained from UCAR/Unidata. The user also
* understands that UCAR/Unidata is not obligated to provide the user with
* any support, consulting, training or assistance of any kind with regard
* to the use, operation and performance of this software nor to provide
* the user with any updates, revisions, new versions or "bug fixes."
* THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY UCAR/UNIDATA "AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR
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Now, my own opinion is that anyone who won't use software because of LGPL has too many lawyers on their staff. But probably theres lots of Important Things I don't understand about this.
The LGPL is supposed to make people give back any changes that they make to the library. The reality is that you either have that ethic or you dont, and the license is probably not a real factor in your decision. There's nobody who's going to examine your code and figure out that you made some changes that you kept selfishly to yourself.
There are surely cases where things like this matter, like the pathetic attempt of SCO to claim copyright violation by linux. But NetCDF-Java? Seems unlikely. So the license will be MIT, and the same people who have been helping me debug and submitting changes will continue to do so.
And MATLAB users will get full use of the CDM software stack, and hopefully IDL and other such scientific packages will follow suit.
"Shoot the lawyer twice" is the punchline to a joke which you can guess the rest of. No lawyers were actually hurt in the writing of this blog or in the coding of the software ;^)