This is about the question Can the banner in the Home Edition be removed? . It is felt that this is a sort of circumvention of restrictions placed on the Home Edition of Mathematica, and as such, should not be allowed on this site.

This says:

All uses of the Software and other elements of the Product not specifically stated in the Permitted Uses and Installations section of this Agreement are prohibited, including, without limitation:


g. removing any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices from the Product.

which seems relevant to this case.

What do you think? (A link to an official stand by WRI on this would be appreciated.)


5 Answers 5


Since Mathematica allows to remove the banner in the options menu we can assume that the removal is perfectly legal.

I asked WRI's position on this and got a reply from Dan Ruggiero, saying removal of the banner is allowed when done within the options of Mathematica (emphasis mine). If you don't like the words "removal of the banner" (which IMO caused all the fuss) you can say "change the window frame" instead. Of the 10 different window frame options there's only 1 (one) which shows the banner. To repeat: 9 out of the 10 available window frame styles don't show the banner.

See also the edit to the original question.

  • If my door lock can be easily picked, is it OK to burglarize me? Oct 3, 2012 at 10:46
  • @Sjoerd - Not a good comparison IMO. How about this: I post a message to every passer-by on my front door with instructions how to break into my house. That's what WRI does: offer you the option to remove the banner just like it offers you the option to change the font color. Is changing font color a crime? Does it go against the EULA? Yet it's in the same options menu as the WindowFrame option. Just an option like any other! Would WRI include it there if they would be against the removal? They would simply not give you the option, right?
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 10:57
  • Having a backdoor is not the same as posting a notice about how to find it. WRI has never done that. And it really is a small, hidden backdoor. Many users don't know about the option inspector, although it's in plain sight there in a menu. Even less people would have know that you could use that to remove the banner. There are thousands of options lurking in there. It's security by obscurity, not good, but it served its purpose. Until now. Oct 3, 2012 at 11:18
  • @Sjoerd - It looks like we're not going to agree. Just this: changing font color is in the same Object Inspector, at the same level as the WindowFrame. Is that also meant to remain hidden then? See the edit of my answer.
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 12:48
  • Font color is also documented in various places in the documentation. Changing banners is not. That you can change it from there may be just an unintended side-effect that will be removed once WRI is aware that this possibility is common knowledge (thanks to your efforts). Don't take this all personally, but I'm genuinely concerned with what you're doing. Oct 3, 2012 at 13:10
  • @Sjoerd - As it stands, in version 8 all these options are available to the user. They may change their mind for version 9, but I am not going to take the blame for that!! Like I said in my other comment the banner is visible in just 1 of 10 window border options, and WRI must be d*mn well aware of that, even if they only found out during testing. IMO the banner is there for the links to Learning Center and Demonstrations, not as a logo (which it isn't anyway). I asked WRI Support about the banner's function, but didn't get a reply yet.
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 13:20
  • @Sjoerd - I suggest we leave it here. Like I said we're not going to agree, and I think I made my point as clearly as a can.
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 13:23
  • OK. Let's say "I yell because I care" ;-) Oct 3, 2012 at 13:27
  • Hey Sjoerd, that's my line! :-)
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 13:30
  • 1
    Good that you asked support, because although I personally have no problem with the question, that isn't to say that WRI will be completely sanguine about it and I don't find your hypothetical conversation particularly convincing. Don't expect everyone you interact with to share your view of what is reasonable... especially lawyers! Oct 3, 2012 at 16:04
  • I would suggest replacing the mock discussion with the actual response from WRI support.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Oct 4, 2012 at 17:24

I don't see a problem with the question. Not our job to enforce WRI's policy.

Also see SE's network wide policy: Should moderators enforce NDAs for software vendors?

  • 3
    I think the discussion is whether or not removing the banner is OK or not; not whether editing internal files is OK or not. As for not being our job to enforce their policy, I completely agree.
    – acl
    Oct 2, 2012 at 13:59
  • 2
    @acl Let me put it this way — it's not a violation (if it is) until someone does it and then it's between them and WRI. Me telling someone how to do it is not a violation.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Oct 2, 2012 at 14:06
  • 1
    I agree, and this really comes down to what you said: it's not our job to enforce policy, whatever that may be. However: when people were discussing how to copy-protect code, there was a long discussion on whether this should be revealed here, and the conclusion was "no". And I don't think that was that unreasonable. So, there are different shades to this, and people may legitimately hold either viewpoint.
    – acl
    Oct 2, 2012 at 14:10
  • @acl The difference was that it was Leonid's personal choice to not reveal it. Few others agreed with him and I suspect such a question will be answered by most of the regulars. However, the question and answers are not forbidden. That question is still open.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Oct 2, 2012 at 14:13
  • No, a number of people did agree with him. I guess my point is, things that look silly to you or I might not look so silly to others, and that must be taken into account.
    – acl
    Oct 2, 2012 at 14:15
  • 2
    @acl I don't disagree with that... all I'm saying is that we didn't ban the Q&A from ever happening. All those who knew how to do it (users on this site) agreed to not answer it, which is one way of information blockade. My point is just about where the "censorship", to abuse a term, happens — at the site level or the user level. I disagree with it being at the site level.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Oct 2, 2012 at 14:21
  • Yes, so do I, very strongly. However, it's not up to me to decide!
    – acl
    Oct 2, 2012 at 14:24

From the Home Edition FAQ:

Q: How is Mathematica Home Edition different from the professional version of Mathematica?
Mathematica Home Edition includes all of the functionality found in the professional version. The difference is that Mathematica Home Edition is only authorized for use on personally owned computers for non-professional and non-academic purposes.

Notice that it doesn't say anything about a banner being a requirement for a Home Edition license.

It's just not clear what the banner's function is. It may be to identify Home Editions easier when your business or research lab gets raided by the anti-piracy squad. But I doubt that would be the purpose: if removing the banner is as easy as removing two lines from an unencrypted text file it's useless as protection against abuse.

Another purpose could be to offer non-professionals easy access to Learning Center and Demonstrations. In that case removal shouldn't be a problem.

I see no harm in the removal (otherwise I wouldn't have posted question and answer, obviously).


I fully agree that is not stackexchange moderator's jobs to enforce these issues. I did, however, downvote the question - something I rarely do. I even flagged it for moderator attention which, in retrospect, I wouldn't do again.

I would like to clarify, though, that there is a distinction between a downvote, which simply expresses a user's opinion bluntly, and moderator action, which is more official. If I were to encounter a question which clearly seemed to explore ways to violate Wolfram terms of use, I wouldn't hesitate to downvote, simply because I don't personally want to support that.

As far as this particular question goes, I honestly don't know if it violates the terms. My recollection from quite some time back is that the student edition used to forbid removal of such material so I assumed that the home edition would as well. I don't have the home edition and the link that J.M. pointed to makes no explicit reference to the home edition. Thus, I honestly don't know.

  • I agree with your points. Users expressing personal dislike for going against the spirit of the software by downvoting the question is a much better option (I don't advocate downvoting for personal dislikes in general). There was some discussion in chat, taking examples to extremes — for instance, what to do if someone posts a license key generator or a question asking for it. I still feel that hammering such questions with downvotes will force the user to either withdraw or makes it (the decision) easier for mods to remove it, because nothing at -10 can honestly be justified as useful
    – rm -rf Mod
    Oct 2, 2012 at 23:06
  • I read that the Student Edition (S€ prints a footer on printed output. But does the SE have a user option to disable that? I don't think so, and that's the big difference: The Home Edition does let you customize notebook appearance. Like I said in another comment only 1 of the 10(!) available options has the banner. I think the chat discussion and comments created a bias suggesting that it would be illegal to remove it, and several people followed that. I'm getting more and more convinced that the banner is just there for the links on it, but reactions got so heated that many users...
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 14:50
  • ... fail to see this. I'm definitely against any license violation, but IMO this is just a silly couple of links for the user, which he can turn off if he doesn't need them.
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 14:52
  • @stevenvh I undownvoted your original question because I'm fairly convinced that your intention was not to modify the product in an unreasonable way. As to Wolfram's intention, I'm honestly not certain. I can say, though, that more than enough time has gone into this very minor issue, however. Oct 3, 2012 at 16:05

Foregoing any legal and moral issues involved, I don't think it is very smart to lose WRI's goodwill by letting questions like these have a warm welcome here.

This is about responsible citizenship, and though some may profit from it on the short term (having an ugly banner removed and gaining a few pixels screen real estate), I consider this type of question harmful for the community on the long term (potential disappearance of the home edition option; impact on WRI employee presence here).

I don't like censorship, and I don't think mods should police these questions, but I feel that a responsible community ought to downvote them.

Anything that can be done, shouldn't be necessarily done. Freedom doesn't equal anarchy.

I'm not required to be nice to my neighbor, but I can. Everybody wins.

  • 2
    Of the 10 variants for the Window border there's only 1 (one) which shows the banner, and I noticed you can edit "DockedCells" as well. If they let you change those it means they're OK with it. Nice-neighbor-wise. I'm not cracking their machine code, just using what WRI offers me, and what they're very much aware of.
    – stevenvh
    Oct 3, 2012 at 12:58
  • I believe that a person who knows how to remove the banner has done their homework; and, having gone through the process, they must "feel" the ethical issues into their sinews. +1 from me for a valid opinion -- though your opinion is aligned with an unsightly banner that some just want to remove for aesthetic reasons.
    – Eric Brown
    Aug 30, 2013 at 3:17

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