[R] ACM Software Copyright and License Agreement

Hans W Borchers hwborchers at googlemail.com
Fri Feb 17 13:42:56 CET 2012

peter dalgaard <pdalgd <at> gmail.com> writes:

> On Feb 16, 2012, at 12:31 , Hans W Borchers wrote:
> > I have often seen the use of routines from the ACM Collected Algorithms,
> > i.e. <netlib.org/toms/≥ (CALGO, or Trans. On Math. Software, TOMS), in
> > Open Source programs, maybe also in some R packages --- and sometimes
> > these programs are distributed under the GPL license, sometimes under
> > proprietary licenses, e.g. in Scilab.
> >
> > The use of these CALGO programs is subject to the ACM Software Copyright
> > and License Agreement <www.acm.org/publications/policies/softwarecrnotice>
> > which includes the following paragraph:
> >
> >    **Commercial Use**
> >    Any User wishing to make a commercial use of the Software must contact
> >    ACM at permissions <at> acm.org to arrange an appropriate license.
> >    Commercial use includes
> >    (1) integrating or incorporating all or part of the source code into a
> >    product for sale or license by, or on behalf of, User to third parties,
> >    (2) distribution of the binary or source code to third parties for use
> >    with a commercial product sold or licensed by, or on behalf of, User.
> >
> > I assume that this license extension is not compatible with GPL, but may
> > be wrong here. So my question is: Can software from the ACM Collected
> > Algorithms be distributed under a GPL-compatible licence, and how to
> > formulate and where to put such a license extension.
> One needs to tread _really_ carefully with these items.
> You plain can't claim that the ACM license is compatible with the GPL; it
> just isn't. However, there are cases where software has been placed in the
> Public Domain in addition to being published by an ACM Journal. E.g., the
> NSWC (Naval Surface Warfare Center) library is in the Public Domain even
> though some of its routines have been published in TOMS.

And how can I be sure that these algorithms have been rightly placed on the
NSWC library page under a license different from its original ACM license?
I am inclined to be quite suspicious about that.

Best, Hans Werner

> However, I am not a lawyer, etc...
> -pd

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