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RE: Using MATLAB .m-files with Octave

From: Ted Harding
Subject: RE: Using MATLAB .m-files with Octave
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 02:59:48 +0100 (BST)

On 18-Oct-99 John W. Eaton wrote:
> The matlab.lic file on the systems at the University of Wisconsin
> (I believe they have Matlab 5.2) says, in part
>    Except as expressly provided by this Agreement, Licensee may not
> alter or modify the Programs without the consent of TMW.  In
> particular, Licensee may not alter, adapt, translate or convert
> 'M-Files' contained in the Programs in order to use those files
> with any non-TMW software, nor may the Licensee incorporate or use
> 'M-Files' or any other part of the Programs in or as part of
> another computer program.
> So, I am not a lawyer, nor do I speak for The MathWorks, but it seems
> to be that they would say that using Octave to execute the M-files
> that were distributed with Matlab is a violation of their license.

I'm not a lawyer either, but the above (especially "incorporate or
use .. in or as part of") seems pretty clear! Even including in your
octave LOADPATH a directory containing M-files in a legitimately
installed Matlab could be a breach (since that looks like "incorporate"
to me); certainly, if doing so led to one of the Matlab M-files actually
being read and executed on octave then that looks like a definite

I suspect that in practice it is the "use" rather than the "incorporate"
which could get you into trouble.

A related issue is "using" a Matlab M-file in the sense of studying it
in order to get ideas about how to solve a computational problem using
octave. I won't say more here because it unfolds to too great a depth.

Maybe I'm not the only person in the world who has had a few PhD
students where they use Matlab but not octave on machines I don't use,
and I use octave but not Matlab; but as the work goes back and forth
they bring me their Matlab files and (with any necessary modifications)
I test them on octave; while they can take my octave files and similarly
run them on Matlab. I can see this getting tangled with the other issue.
Not that I worry because I think common sense gives me a clear
conscience; but what's the status of a clear conscience in law?

Best wishes to all,

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <address@hidden>
Date: 19-Oct-99                                       Time: 02:59:48
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