[Biojava-l] How to share code while protecting copyrights?

Steve Darnell darnells at dnastar.com
Wed Oct 13 18:21:52 UTC 2010


Forgive me for being pessimistic, but I do not believe you can
publically distribute your code without running the risk of being
scooped.  Mark's suggestions are very good; however, the safest route
would be to withhold distribution of your code until your work is
published (or at very least accepted).

Also, I would suggest this argument for convincing your group to use
BioJava (disclaimer - I am not a lawyer).

Under the LGPL, you are not obligated to release your source code if:

(1) you create a "work based on the library" (e.g. direct modifications
or additions to the licensed work) but do not distribute it, and
(2) you create a "work that uses the library" by dynamically linking
your work to the licensed work (see distribution clause #5 of the LGPL:

If you follow choice #2, you can license and distribute your work under
terms of your group's choosing (open or closed, submit it to the BioJava
developers for inclusion or not) while gaining the benefit of reusing


-----Original Message-----
From: biojava-l-bounces at lists.open-bio.org
[mailto:biojava-l-bounces at lists.open-bio.org] On Behalf Of Mark
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 4:26 AM
To: McSweeny, Andrew J
Cc: biojava-l at biojava.org
Subject: Re: [Biojava-l] How to share code while protecting copyrights?

Hi -

My understanding of copyright is that it is yours as soon as you assert
it is your creation. You can simply add a copyright statement to each
containing the code (in the header for example). The reality is that
defending copyright is your responsibility. If someone violates it, you
to take them to court or issue a legal letter.

You can also put an appropriate license on the code specifying how it
can be
used. Examples include GPL, LGPL, BSD, Apache License etc. You can pick
of these that best matches your needs. BioJava code is LGPL so if you
your code to go into the BioJava code base you will need to make your

It's always a good idea to add @author tags to Java code to ensure
appropriate attribution.

Finally, if someone steals your code and publishes results before you
you can always make a complaint to the journal editors. If it is a
journal, and you have reasonable proof the editor should take some
such as forcing a retraction.  You can also make a distribution
saying that if someone uses this code they agree not to publish without
first consulting you.

If you want to make it really water tight, get a lawyer and explain
specifically what you want to share and what you want to protect or

- Mark

On Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 11:41 PM, McSweeny, Andrew J <
andrew.mcsweeny at rockets.utoledo.edu> wrote:

> Hi,
> I am working on a project which simulates sexual reproduction in a
> population of digital organisms.  Their genome is just a contig from
>  It's pretty interesting and I can talk more about it in the
> Anyways, how can I share my code for this project without having to
> that someone else will use it to publish a paper before my group does?
> I'm certain nobody in the open source community would do that, but how
do I
> convince my group that opening our project to BioJava is a good idea?
> -Andrew
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