Stata is a proprietary statistical program used largely by economists. I want to write a basic multiple regression package that uses the same commands as Stata, e.g., regress var1 var2 var3, robust if var4[_n - 1] < .

Is it legal (in the US) to distribute source code that does this under an open-source license? In other words, does any IP protection apply to the command syntax used by proprietary software?

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    Sadly, this isn't a good place to ask, either. You should direct your query to stata themselves and a lawyer. (The second is in case the first fails to say "Go for it!") – DougM Jan 17 '14 at 4:17
  • So I know in the future, can you please explain why this is not the right place to ask? – katriel Jan 17 '14 at 4:45
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    You're asking for someone to practice law. When someone crosses the line from "here's what the law says in general" to "here's what the law means in your specific circumstance", you really want a lawyer at play. And while there's probably someone on SO with a law degree, if they're practicing attorneys they're not going to do their jobs here. – DougM Jan 17 '14 at 4:58
  • Fair enough, thanks! I imagined (evidently wrongly) that this would be a well-established general principle of law. – katriel Jan 17 '14 at 5:11
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it requires legal advice. – Kilian Foth Jun 30 '15 at 9:12

The general guiding principle of licensing software is that you're not licensing the computer language that the application was written in, but rather, the application so created by the language.

In other words, you are licensing the behavior of the application that is represented by the code written in the language, not the language itself. Since you're talking about the language itself, licensing has nothing to do with it. In fact, you're not bound by Stata's license unless you agree to it, by using their software.

So licensing has nothing to do with it, from Stata's point of view.

The real question is, is the Stata language itself protected by copyright or patent? If you want to host a Stata interpreter that you have written yourself, using the same language specification that Stata uses, you should check with Stata to see if it runs afoul of any copyright or patent issues.

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