NEURON distribution license

Anything that doesn't fit elsewhere.
Post Reply
wwlytton
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 10:37 pm
Contact:

NEURON distribution license

Post by wwlytton » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:16 am

I was unable to find the license terms under which NEURON is distributed. I was thinking it should be here:
http://www.neuron.yale.edu/neuron/about
(btw when you search for license or 'public license' etc it returns too much stuff to be useful)

This is important since needs to be addressed for Resource Sharing for some NIH proposals where they request a license that is suitable for commercialization: "The terms of software availability should permit the commercialization of enhanced or customized versions of the software, or incorporation of the software or pieces of it into other software packages."
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-f ... 1-203.html

This consideration would be even more critical if submitting for an NIH SBIR where lack of a clean/clear path to commercialization would sink a proposal.

After discussions with others it appears that one possibility would be aiming for the modified BSD license similar to SUNDIALS (https://computation.llnl.gov/casc/sundi ... cense.html)

Currently most of NEURON would seem to be pulled into lgpl which is OK for commercialization I think: "convey a Combined Work under terms of your choice that, taken together, effectively do not restrict modification of the portions of the Library contained in the Combined Work and reverse engineering for debugging such modifications ..." (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html)

However, a quick check reveals at least two files containing code carrying a GPL license: src/oc/nrn_vsscanf.c, src/e_editor/main.c

It was also noted that code can be released under more than one license -- though that seems that would only add confusion.

ted
Site Admin
Posts: 5627
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 4:50 pm
Location: Yale University School of Medicine
Contact:

Re: NEURON distribution license

Post by ted » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:06 pm

It was so disappointing when one of the brightest students in the undergrad cellular neurophysiology course I taught announced that he was going to pursue a career in law. Now I realize how totally rational his decision was. Long after science, medicine, technology, culture, art, finance, and civilization all crumble into dust and the sun goes nova, there will still be growth in the legal profession.

wwlytton
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 10:37 pm
Contact:

Re: NEURON distribution license

Post by wwlytton » Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:02 pm

thanks ted :) ok so let's give him a call and get an answer

ramcdougal
Posts: 160
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2008 3:38 pm
Location: Yale School of Public Health

Re: NEURON distribution license

Post by ramcdougal » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:31 pm

I was asked to share my thoughts.

The grant guidelines are long, so here's a little more context: "There is no prescribed single license... however... reviewers will be instructed to evaluate dissemination plans relative to these goals," which includes providing a license that "permit[s] the commercialization of enhanced or customized versions of the software, or incorporation of the software or pieces of it into other software packages."

The way I read that, proposing a license that permits commercialization is simply a plus when being reviewed for a new grant under that FOA. Commercialization, of course, can come in many forms: selling a product or selling support for a product (e.g. redhat)

If we interpret this as a requirement for future grant funding and if we interpret commercialization in the selling-a-product sense and we assume selling a product is only viable if the sellers are not required to also make it freely redistributable, then the GPL is too restrictive as it requires distributors of derived works to also distribute their source code and not restrict redistribution.

To prepare for such a future eventuality, we would need NEURON to be free of GPL or other copyleft code (as inclusion of any GPL code requires the whole program subject to GPL's conditions that arguably limit commercial exploitation), which means the sscanf variant and the E editor would need to be removed. The downside of this is that we will not be able to incorporate any GPL code, but fortunately most math packages have been released under LGPL or the Modified BSD license (e.g. SUNDIALS, libsbml, NETGEN, etc...).

I think releasing NEURON under either the Modified BSD license or the MIT license would allow the widest possible commercial exploitation while still allowing the free and open source community to pursue further development.

Post Reply