Commercialised programs

hoa at cwxtl hoa at cwxtl
Tue Feb 8 16:06:59 EST 1994


Adrian Goldman, BTK x8029 (GOLDMAN at ALA.BTK.UTU.FI) wrote:
: In <CKvBq5.BwF at wst.edvz.sbg.ac.at> ortnerm at wst.edvz.sbg.ac.at writes:

: >             PROSA II - PROtein Structure Analysis
: >             =====================================
: ....
: >   You can get the demo version of Prosa II by anonymous ftp from ....
: > 
: > You can use this version of Prosa II until March 27, 1994....
: >
: > Commercialized versions of Prosa II and its successors will be available
: > in the near future. For further details please contact M.J.Sippl at e-mail
: > address
: >                       sippl at agnes.came.sbg.ac.at

: This announcement, and the fact that the HKL suite of programs for the RAXIS
: have to bought from MSC (for $1500(!)) made me decide to get other peoples'
: reactions to the current trend towards commercialised programs.  As far as
: I am aware most, if not all, of the programs being commercialised are
: developed using government funding (Austrian, US, etc., etc.) and with a
: committment to sharing "results".  If the results of some government funding
: is a coordinate set, we are obliged to deposit it in the PDB for all to use
: (sometimes without reference to the original work!).  If the result is a 
: piece of code, that person feels the right to copyright it and charge
: money for it -- which doesn't quite seem to me to be sharing.  

  It is ironic that as the hardware to do crystallography (particularly
computers) becomes more and more affordable, the software used in 
crystallography should become a financial concern.  For the most part,
the most expensive programs are just simply not worth the price, ie
the biosym (sp?), sybyl etc programs.  Other programers seem
to charge enough to cover their expenses.  I can sympathise with the second
and not the first, especially as some programs are just a collection of 
other people's algorithms/code which were public domain.  Although I'll
admit there is a HUGE amount of work in putting together code, the 
product doesn't seem that valuble to me and doesn't advance scienced all
that much.
	The only truly viable option I can see is to go the rought of the
free software foundation and the copyleft restrictions.  ie to way for
people to write free software that can be easily distributed and 
protected so that nobody else can use that code to make money off of it.
(I think CCP4 has much of tyeh same goals).

: What do others think? - or am I being too old-fashioned?  When I started
: as a macromolecular crystallographer some 13 years ago, all code basically
: came free....
	I started much later than you, and I agree wholeheartedly.
:                          Adrian Goldman

Hoa Ton-That
ho at xtal.ri.ccf.org

PS>  sorry about the soapbox.  I just thought i'd add my 0.02.  Anyways,
one of teh major reason I've avoided doing any program development
in crystallographyare because of teh reasons above and that I believe
its REALLY hard to get funding to wirte programs. 




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