[License-discuss] license for code used for scientific results?

Kevin Hunter hunteke at earlham.edu
Mon Apr 30 19:22:15 UTC 2012

At 2:14pm -0400 Mon, 30 Apr 2012, Nigel H. Tzeng wrote:
> You probably have already done this but I suggest seeing if the
> ScienceCommons and NeuroCommons projects offers something to your liking.

Embarrassingly, I had not run across those.  I'll get back once I've had 
a chance to digest them.  Thank you for the pointer and those links.

> IMHO you are better served to release under a permissive license and
> build a community that encourages sharing than attempt to force
> sharing. The neurocommons project is an excellent exemplar in my
> opinion. I believe most of their code is BSD or something similar.

The problem is that at this point, we're not building a community, but 
rather adding to an already existing community.  In the same breath, I'm 
painfully aware that as an academic (more specifically a graduate 
student), I have roughly $0 to litigate or otherwise enforce any license 
issue that may arise.  And this is the rub for more than just my 
research group.  We basically already "live with the fact that not 
everyone will follow it" (Bruce, in a sister sub-thread).  In plainer 
language, the bottom line is that a law is only as good as the 
combination of "enforceability" and willingness of a people to follow it.

However, we believe there is more than one reason why folks in our 
sub-sub domain don't freely share their (academically oriented) code and 
data, including such "simple" problems as

  - Don't know how
  - Don't have a venue to do so
  - Don't believe anyone outside of their crew might be
    interested in recreating their results
  - Embarrassed by (perceived) quality of code
  - Afraid someone will implicate them with bad use of their software
  - Are not encouraged to do so by our journals.

We believe the reluctance to share code is *not* because of much (if 
any) malicious intent, and we believe having a GPL-esque license would 
be one more data point with which to make a compelling argument for 
openness in our community.  Having an added incentive, like a "legally 
binding, if not directly enforceable" license, could help change the 
ecosystem.  In this sense, a BSD-style license doesn't respond to what 
we want because it enables the status quo.


> Regarding your desire for an OSI approved license that meets your
> criteria...I pretty sure it doesn't exist.

We're not tied to OSI approval; that statement was more of an attempt to 
elucidate that we were hoping for an OSI approved license if it existed, 
and to ask if the text of the OSI licenses was free for us to munge into 
our own license.  In essence, what is the license for each OSI license?



More information about the License-discuss mailing list