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st: RE: license type of user-written ado files on SSC
The rules and conventions behind such files are
laid out by Kit Baum at
I am not aware that anyone has ever explicitly
or implicitly indicated that their posting was
to be considered as subject to some particular licence.
If it is, then the authors should perhaps best state
that in their Stata help files, as Eva was expecting.
However, let me now put on a hat as Executive Editor,
==== NJC wearing hat (from http://www.tilley.com/)
One concrete point I should emphasise:
some items on SSC correspond to items published
in the Stata Technical Bulletin and/or the Stata
Journal. For example, what commonly happens is that
authors write a program, put it on SSC, and then
write it up formally for the Stata Journal (SJ).
Then perhaps they revise it. (In some cases, they
revise early and revise often.) Now the SJ likes to
carry notice of Software Updates, so that a -search-
always points to the very latest version of a program.
But the SJ is a quarterly and can't compete with the
speed of authors and of Kit Baum, who can make changes
each day in the archived code. Hence the SJ often
lags behind SSC.
All combinations are possible: the version on
SSC may predate the publication in the STB/SJ,
it may be (practically) identical and it may postdate
the latest publication in the SJ.
This is all important
because (quoting now from the Statalist FAQ 6.4)
"... StataCorp has nonexclusive rights to any program
published in the STB or SJ, while anything published
on Statalist is tacitly put in the public domain. In
practice, you can probably take anything published in
either medium and modify it as you will --- especially
if you do that privately --- but publicly we recommend
that unless you are the original author, you should change
the name of the program, take all blame for any limitations
your changes produce, and imply that a suitably large
portion of the credit for the program belongs to the
That word "nonexclusive" is worth flagging.
I'll now take off that hat.
==== NJC not wearing hat
In practice StataCorp wants to encourage the use of
Stata. Stata users who put their programs in the public
domain also want to encourage that, and to encourage
the use of their own work; and I don't know anyone in this
group who is averse to some public or private acknowledgement
(although at least some of us may seem rather irritable
if bombarded with private emails on all sorts of sundry Stata
problems). None of this of course justifies violations
of national or international law or of decent ethical standards.
In practice it is far more common that user-programmers
re-invent a program someone else has (nearly) written
than that user-programmers consciously steal each other's work
_and publish it somewhere else_ without proper
In fact "steal" is almost always too strong a word here,
and I can't think of a single real example. More generally,
if someone uses a way of
doing things from within someone else's Stata program
they are probably copying (perhaps at many removes) something
Bill Gould wrote somewhere in an early ado many years ago.
In practice users of SSC Stata material are trusted to
behave responsibly. That's the best bottom line, I suggest.
I was wondering under what kind of license the ado files on SSC
are released. I could not find a license statement, neither in
the files themselves (I briefly scanned some of them), nor on
the SSC webpage. In LaTeX style files, one usually finds a line
saying "This is released under lppl", or something similar.
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