[Linux-aus] Australian Digital Civil Rights Quiz

Nathan Bailey Nathan.Bailey at its.monash.edu
Wed Jun 21 13:01:01 UTC 2006

I'm not much of a stats buff, but I get the impression that the value of 
packages like R <URL:http://www.r-project.org/> (and SAS, SPSS, Matlab, 
etc.) is in the scripts/analyses built on top of the basic tool.  In 
this case, it is quite possible that:
a) Proprietary tools lock in scripts to reduce portability (= lock in costs)
b) Proprietary tools require non-standard scripting language/approach (= 
lack of economies of scale in skills/knowledge)
c) Proprietary tools may have plug-ins that can't be ported to other tools

(a) and (c) are particularly relevant to DRM -- if I am not legally 
allowed to work out how to migrate my scripts, or a script set I bought, 
then my own IP is being restricted by the DRM.

(i.e. equivalent to MS Office proprietary formats not being allowed to 
be reverse engineered for portability [which isn't the case now, AFAIK, 
but was less clear in earlier days of their EULA])


Janet Hawtin wrote:
> Glen Turner wrote:
>> Hi Janet,
>> I'm not arguing against the substance of what you wrote.
>> <nit picking>
>>> - statistical data modelling
>> Not a good example. I don't understand how Excel works, but I
>> know its stats functions are crap because there is an external
>> standard to test them against. Equally I know the functions in
>> SAS are brilliant.  Both are closed source.
>> There is a question about the rights inherent in a data model,
>> especially those used in public policy, but again that is an
>> important fight for others.
> OK fair enough.
> I suggested it after looking at the kinds of 
> life/environment/economic/disaster modelling applications people are 
> proposing for use to examine environmental impact, project safety and 
> viability. If someone DRMs that software and public policy decisions are 
> made based on it, I would expect it to conflict with public information 
> rights that people have as to whether the information supporting a 
> government decsion was well founded or balanced or even relevant. There 
> is a risk that policy could be made based on modelling applications with 
> nice bling and gui but with ineffective or customised information being 
> output and no access to the logic.
> Janet
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