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st: RE: license type of user-written ado files on SSC


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: RE: license type of user-written ado files on SSC
Date   Wed, 24 Mar 2004 15:40:12 -0000

The rules and conventions behind such files are 
laid out by Kit Baum at 
http://fmwww.bc.edu/repec/bocode/s/SSCsubmit.html

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, 
Stata Journal. 

==== 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 
original authors." 

That word "nonexclusive" is worth flagging. 

I'll now take off that hat. 

==== NJC not wearing hat 

Forget legalities: 

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 
acknowledgement. 

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. 
That's inevitable. 

In practice users of SSC Stata material are trusted to 
behave responsibly. That's the best bottom line, I suggest. 

Nick
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 

eva.poen@unisg.ch

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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