LAPACK LEGAL

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LAPACK LEGAL

Postby darlawilson87 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:18 am

Hi! If I am to alter LAPACK somehow and include it in a project, must I build it as a library with its own 3-clause BSD license and link it to project? Would it be Legal to include only some of LAPACK's source code files ?

THX
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Re: LAPACK LEGAL

Postby admin » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:15 pm

LAPACK is a freely-available software package. It is available from netlib via anonymous ftp and the World Wide Web at http://www.netlib.org/lapack . Thus, it can be included in commercial software packages (and has been). We only ask that proper credit be given to the authors.
Like all software, it is copyrighted. It is not trademarked, but we do ask the following:
If you modify the source for these routines we ask that you change the name of the routine and comment the changes made to the original.
We will gladly answer any questions regarding the software. If a modification is done, however, it is the responsibility of the person who modified the routine to provide support.

See http://www.netlib.org/lapack/faq.html#_ ... k_software
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Re: LAPACK LEGAL

Postby megeek » Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:11 am

Great question! Glad I happened by. The LICENSE comes with each copy of lapack and blas, its in the in the root folder of any distro, and its not that hard to read. Just read it. What follows may help you understand it a little better, and get you in the spirit of correctly using this great (ok, awesome) software project.

It turns out that I might know something about this area. However, I do not speak for the supposed copyright owners mentioned in the license, and what I say cannot be held against them, or me either for that matter! So 'res ipsa loquitur' and 'caveat emptor', not to mention 'caveat lector' bubbas.

Certainly the problem is important. Copyright violations have serious financial and criminal penalties. Best to get it right! But can you?
The problem here is, for starters, where you are. In the US its one set of laws, eleswhere its another. The supposed copyright holders of this work, and I say supposed for a reason that will become apparent, all reside in the US. Now you may hear from folks (who don't really know, and the reason you can tell they really don't know is that they say this) that all software is copyrighted.

Not so. Not in the USA. Title 17 of the US Code , the US Copyright Act, section 105 sez (and I quote): "Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government... ", then it goes on to explain "but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise." That's the law bubbas if it IS a work of the US Government, NOBODY has a copyright, or can aquire one, because it never was subject to copyright law. Of course there are other legal technicalities to consider, but we start there.

Of course, that begs the question what IS a "Government work", but my first guess would be if an employee of a US government agency (if you get a treasury check each month as pay - not Soc Sec, then chances are you ARE a federal employee) wrote the software for work, then it IS PROBABLY a government work, plain speaking, do y'a figure? So how much of LAPACK/BLAS is actually a Government work? Any guesses? I'm guessing at least some, but the supposed copyright license seems to take all credit. Interesting. That may actually be (for reasons having nothing to do with moral rights) illegal (sigh), not a good thing to take to court I'm thinkin, so you can see how sticky things might become if anyone actually attempted to enforce a copyright. I'd guess 'problematic" would cover the subject. But, milage may vary due to other stuff not mentioned. A might sticky on both sides.

Another thing is that the supposed 'owners' request that you give them credit. In Europe these are called 'moral rights' under the assertion that if you steal another's work, you should at least admit you stole it and give the author some credit. Its only 'cricket' folks, fair play. Alas, moral rights like this are not part of US Copyright law, and are not enforcable in US. Its more kind of an 'honor system' in the US, and academics and many others consider this only right, and may squint at you funny as though you were 'dishonest' if you 'plagerize' another's work and claim it as your own, even though its not technically illegal to do that in many, ( but not all) circumstances. Clear as mud? Great. Yet to claim moral right when you do not have them to claim... may be an abuse of US Copyright law... oops... (if you are a copyright holder you do not want to do this)! But if you "request" them, that's different. See? OK then.

Which brings us FINALLY to the pithy questions. Can I use LAPACK in my projects, modify, and so forth?

The LICENCE and supposed license holders describe how the software may be used. Note that it is artfully written. First it says that "Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted". That is a pretty broad license. It DEMANDS only that you include a copy of specific license provisions with any used source and binaries. It also commands that the (supposed) copyright holders names not be used in certain circumstances. Outside of the license the hoders REQUEST that if you modify a routine that you should name it something distinguishable (which protects everyone, and I think it is a great idea that we should all follow.)

These are pretty benign, generally unobjectionable restrictions. So if you would coply with the license, and I think you should, we all should, and comply with the demanded and requested restrictions, it seems safe and a pretty good deal, given the complicated nature of copyright ownership (not to mention proof), and even a bit heroic for these folks to stand up as 'owners' and maintain the project, and provide legal cover for the rest of us. Bravo to them, actually.

So my view in the end is YES, you CAN use it in your project, and YES it would be best for you if you were to comply with the LICENSE unless you are Microsoft or Apple and have a zillion lawyers and a billion bucks and want to duke it out (which I doubt they do, but who's gonna stop them anyway?) . So there you are, comply and become a 'LICENSED' user of LAPACK. It ain't so bad. Its good, actually. They are FREE! So use them. Use the Heck out of them. You'll be glad you did.
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