Timothée Lecomte wrote:
>>>As Hans-Bernhard Broeker also explained, a trademark would be needed to
>>>protect the name 'gnuplot'. To remain pragmatic, nobody will provide the
>>>money to have a 'gnuplot' trademark.
>>I'm not assuming that. International trademark looks to be $500 (it's
>>in swiss currency) for ten years. Not unreasonable. But that's an
>>aside. (Might make it easy though to recover http://www.gnuplot.com from
>>that person who gobbled it up.)
It's an aside. Different but not totally unrelated issue.
>>Hence, why I propose that if a member of the group goes silent for a
>>year, someone else is allowed to take over. If it gets to the point
>>where there isn't a dozen or so people who could be a pool for just a
>>few maintainers then nobody cares anymore. Or do a D. Knuth thing and
>>freeze it for good.
> Well, as we should probably not freeze it ;-),
Twenty, thirty years from now? The project having evolved to the point of needing little maintenance? Who knows?
Useful list below, thanks. Short comments within:
> I have wondered how things go for other projects. Indeed, instead of
> trying to resolve the gnuplot's license disadvantage ourselves, we can
> get the inspiration from others (that's not copyrighted !). So I have
> made a compilation of information on famous scientific open-source
> software. Let's see :
> * octave ( numerical computations): GPL, "octave" doesn't seem to be a
> trademark, octave is a GNU product, so it is proctected by the Free
> Software Foundation, which takes good care of copyrights (see
> http://www.gnu.org/prep/maintain/maintain.html : the FSF asks for a
> plain paper from each important contributor that gives his copyright to
> the FSF, as for each GNU software)
We could probably talk to John Eaton about more specifics if we wanted. By plain paper you mean something with signatures? (And notarized, I'd argue.)
> * the R project (statistical language): GPL, no trademark, backed by the
> R foundation for general guidelines and the Free Software Foundation as
> it is a GNU project. The statutes of the R foundation are available here
> : http://www.r-project.org/foundation/Rfoundation-statutes.pdf
> * Maxima (computer algebra system) : GPL, no trademark ("maxima" is
> already the trademark of a fishing lines company),
Doesn't have any bearing on a software license as fishing equipment is unrelated to software.
> no organization behind.
> Maxima comes from DOE-Macsyma, written by the department of Energy (as
> far as I understand) and was officially donated to the community under
> the GPL.
Not according to the letter. It apparently isn't GPL but says if the derivative work is GPL then Maxima's license must also accompany the GPL license.
> Here is the letter which proves it :
> * Pari/GP (computer algebra system) : GPL, no trademark, no foundation
> Was formally a proprietary project, and switched to the gpl. Here is a
> related entry in the FAQ :
> "Why use such a "restrictive" license as the GPL? Will you change it?
> The short answer to the second question is no.
> We are quite happy with the GPL. The original license (up to version
> 2.0) was proprietary, too casually worded, and lead to various
> conflicts. Starting from version 2.0, we wanted a well known license for
> the whole PARI/GP package, that would leave contributors secure with the
> future use of their code and, as far as possible, not prevent anyone
> from helping out. It was soon agreed that PARI/GP should become free
> The GPL was a natural choice. It is certainly well-known, and it
> satisfied every developer involved in the project, as well as their
> respective employers. For the latter, the alternatives would have been
> more restrictive, certainly not closer to the LGPL, BSD, or the Artistic
> license. Most free Computer Algebra Systems also use the GPL, presumably
> for related reasons."
This Henri Cohen seems to be still active in development or directly oversees it, probably made the license transition that much easier.
> * Axiom (computer algebra system ) : BSD-style, no trademark ("axiom" is
> already the trademark of an automotive company),
Again, there can be multiple trademarks if the two companies are in unrelated fields.
> * amarok ( music player ): GPL, no trademark, copyright is protected by
> the KDEev as it is part of KDE
Also the name of a Mike Oldfield album. :-)
> That's already a long list, although I must be forgetting important
> ones. The important points are :
> - some have a trademark, even individuals have (FFmpeg)
> - some don't have, and don't seem to suffer too much (Octave, Maxima, etc.)
Trademark is for protecting the name, probably more for a business. But if some strange court case arises down the road where someone like Octave, Maxima, etc. loses the right to use the name, there'll be a mad scramble at the trademark office.
> - some have a legal organization behind them, which has often the role
> to 'supervise' development by defining global directions (R Foundation,
> Mozilla Foundation...), mostly to verify that copyrights and trademarks
> are respected (FSF, KDEev, Mozilla Foundation, Linuxmark...), sometimes
> to control all of the development process (Scilab)
> - some had an organization, but lost it as it was not that efficient
> (wxWidgets) !
> - many are GPL or LGPL and seem to be fine with it !
> - Interestingly enough, some projects come from proprietary products and
> became GPLed (Pari/GP - decision explained above, Maxima )
Pari/GP hardly seems to have originally been proprietary. Universities are slightly different than companies because of the where the money comes from. (Although, universities seem to be going more and more down that road as even the public schools become more and more private because state governments lessen and lessen support.)
> - the FSF has a strong policy regarding copyrights : it asks for signed
> paper for each important contributor
> - if we want to define a legal board of maintainers, we could have ideas
> from the R foundation (see statutes above)
> - if Thomas Williams was to accept a change in the license, we can have
> an idea of the corresponding paper for Maxima (see link above)
> What do I conclude ?
> We could be fine with the GPL. Even the linux kernel is GPLed, although
> I honestly find that it represents a lot more work as gnuplot ! So the
> GPL can protect gnuplot reliably.
> We could be fine without a trademark. It seems possible to protect the
> name 'gnuplot', but that's a different problem, and should probably be
> adressed after the license is.
> We can be fine without a legal organization.
My vision is not that far, but others might disagree.
> We can also define an
> organization that supervises the development, but taking complete
> control on releases for example would makes gnuplot look like Scilab
> which is still sometimes criticized for its almost closed development.
I'm thinking more a loosely legal agreement about the authority of maintainers. And it probably doesn't have so much to do with the license. But enough authority for stamp of approval release (no warranty!), but not enough to move development outside the intended path.
> What do you conclude ?
First, thanks again for the thorough summary. I need some time to think.