Table of Contents
The license topic of SCaVis is complex and requires a good understanding of several issues.
A complete license information for end-users is given here. Click on the “Agreement” link. Below we will consider a more complicated case when SCaVis is used by developers for for-profit organizations.
Many components of ScaVis are free. But many services (including the full access to this manual) and jar components are only accessible for full members. The yellow components shown on this diagram are free and protected by the GNU (v3) public license.
Other components (blue with red text) are only acceptable for full members.
Getting the SCaVis core packages
The main core libraries (jhplot and jehep package and other used by these libraries) are licensed by the GNU General Public License v2. This means that one can use it to develop a commercial product and sell it. Read this article for explanation. However, the derived works can only be distributed under the same license terms. What does it mean? Falling under GPL does not mean you have to publish your code on the web. You should provide it only when a person having the license asks for it. Typically, a random person does not ask for the code unless he or she actually bought the application.
If you are happy with this, what you need to do is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org asking about the list of libraries which comes with this core libraries. In most cases, they have permissive licenses suitable for modifications and for commercial usage (it they are either GNU or Apache License. Some libraries will be removed which do not comply with such licenses. We change a small donation for this service which goes to the maintenance of this project.
It should be noted that such reduced version of SCaVis is not totally functional and hardly is interesting for non-professional programmers and general users. The reason is that SCaVis talks to a server to access documentation, has build-in documentation databases with the help system, example databases and language files. All of this falls under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License version 3.0 as explained here. Finally, the SCaVis web-based services will be closed (wiki, documentation, svn, example libraries etc.)
Note on included jar packages
All jar libraries submitted to the ScaVis by the users are compatible with the open-source licenses (i.e. GNU) and available in the public domain. However, if you note a package which is not consistent with a public domain license, please inform us and we will remove such library.
Examples of ScaVis license usage
Here are several typical examples showing the ScaVis covering several license questions:
- A student prepares his homework using ScaVis, or an academic professional uses ScaVis for a scientific paper. ScaVis is totally free in this case. However, an access to documentation describing advanced usage may still be needed. Thus, it is recommended to get the membership account and pay the fee to have the full access to the documentation and help system.
- A software company is developing a code for a other (client) company. This company can use the SCaVis jar libraries without any restrictions, as long as the final product for the client has a similar GNU-based license. Nether your company, not the client company, pay for the SacVis. However, the usage of SCaVis IDE is not allowed. In addition, no access to the SCaVis documentation and API. Each developer should register as SCaVis member and pay one-time fee to take the full advantage of the documentation and support.
- A company is performing an analysis of financial market. As in the previous case, SCaVis IDE is not free. Also, no access to the SCaVis documentation. Each developer should purchase the license for a commercial usage, which will also give an access to the full documentation. We do not provide any support.
- A company is performing an analysis of financial market, but would like to use only ScaVis jar files together with Eclipse or NetBeans IDE. Again, they are free to use the jar files without any charge. But, as before, if the developers are not ScaVis full members, there will be no access to the ScaVis documentation and full Java API. Also, we do not provide any support.
The second usage case is more common and often people ask: what if we just use SCaVis jar files to build our commercial product. Yes, you are free to use them and sell the final product to the client, as long as the derived code is open-source (i.e. your company maybe asked to provide the source code). We do not charge your company for doing this. However, practically, this model of usage is rare since the developers of your company still need to have an access to the ScaVis documentation, thus they need to contribute to the one-time membership fee.
Protecting the source code
Even if your derived work is licensed GNU as ScaVis license requires, this does not mean that your work will be totally unprotected (see below) and competitors will use it in their own benefit.
- Firstly, their derived work must also comply with the GNU license and your company can request the source code with new modifications.
- Secondly, the GNU license has several grey areas which can be used to make your product totally useless for your competitors. Example: non-GPL binary Linux kernel is based on this interpretation of GPLv2.
- Thirdly, one should remember that any software that focuses on knowledge-discovery or other similar tasks requires a good documentation and examples. Even a GNU-based software is totally useless without documentation which can be protected by a different license and shipped together with your product.
- Finally, your company can provide various services and charge consultation fees to support the software.
Failed to comply with the license for non-commercial usage?
This is what may happen in case of a violation of the SCaVis license for non-commercial usage:
- You will be under the risk that authors of (non-GNU) third-party libraries may claim a license violation. We also may contact you if a license violation will be detected.
- In case of a GNU-license violation, the contributed authors can report violations here.
- You will be on your own: you will not get any (even limited) support from us or other benefits (such as an access to the full online manual and auto-update).
- Finally, you will be vulnerable in your company if your colleagues will notice that you are using this software without the proper license (note that the free version of SCaVis has a warning indicating the license type).
Thus, to have a piece in mind and a feeling that you are supporting free software and non-profit educational/academic community, one can consider spending a few dollars to obtain a professional version of this program with the permission to use it for commercial purposes (plus many other benefits, such as SCaVis auto-update, an access to the full online manual, complete API documentation, FAQ, script library, etc.).
I want to protect all source code!
Some people ask: what if my company will decide to rewrite this project and alter the license? Technically, this going to be a very expensive project. SCaVis has more than 100M of source code files which are all need to be rewritten. Even a large company hardly can afford doing this. It is certainly almost impossible to be competitive with hundreds of academic users writing scientific software and contributing to the development of this package.
— Sergei Chekanov 2010/12/02 19:52