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RE: Reading NI TDMS files

From: Allen.Windhorn
Subject: RE: Reading NI TDMS files
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 12:25:21 -0600

-----Original Message-----
From: John W. Eaton [mailto:address@hidden 

On 20-Dec-2007, David Bateman wrote:

| Yes it would be better to have a GPLed replacement of the proprietary 
| code, and I agree that any interface to Octave for proprietary code 
| that is distributed is a violation of the GPL. However, what is 
| encouraging?

> Having interfaces to proprietary code leads others to believe
> that they are OK.

I didn't mean to start such an extensive discussion when I asked my
question originally, but it has been very interesting and I have learned
a lot about the GPL and open source in general as a result of following
it.  Having read most of the GPL FAQ, I now feel myself enough of an
expert ;-) to don my Nomex suit and wade into the fray.  I would propose
the following Gedankenexperiment:

1. The Octave code is distributed under the GPL and everything is OK.

2. I write an extension to link Octave to some proprietary code, say
NI's DLL.  It may also have other uses.  This is perfectly OK as long as
I don't distribute the result (in whatever sense the GPL means this),
since I am free to use the Octave code in any way I like.  (I'm not
actually going to do this.)

3. Now I decide to give the code I wrote to someone else.  Still should
be OK, since it contains no GPL code, and I can distribute it under any
license I like as long as I don't include it with Octave.  I can even
publish instructions for using it with Octave (free speech!).  It may be
considered in poor taste by the community, but I have the Nomex suit.

4. Conceivably it could even be distributed legally on the same server
as the Octave code as long as they were not "bundled" in some way.  This
would be poor policy and subversive to open source principles, but IMHO
would not violate the GPL.

Any flaws in this chain?

I think this is a case of having to give people enough freedom to do
things you don't agree with.

Actually the existing code that allows Matlab to use TDMS files might
work with Octave too.  Will investigate and report.


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