[Bioc-devel] About copyright and license of Limma.

Gordon K Smyth smyth at wehi.EDU.AU
Mon May 16 01:49:32 CEST 2011

Dear Charles,

My intention with the limma package is to follow the free-software 
guidelines of the Bioconductor and R projects.  I'm not an expert on 
license requirements myself, so I take advice on this topic, so I've cc'd 
this to the mailing list for Bioconductor software developers.

The limma package declares the LGPL license in the DESCRIPTION file, but 
contains no other copyright claims, as this was the recommended 
Bioconductor practice some years ago.  I'm not familiar with the 
differences between LGPL versions, and I notice that some core 
Bioconductor packages such as Biobase now declare Artistic 2.0 licence. 
I'm happy to take advice on this.  I do not know why Bioconductor licenses 
are different from that of R itself.

In the Author field of the DESCRIPTION file I try to mention everyone who 
has contributed code over the years that made it into the limma package, 
even if the code was later modified or removed.  I view myself as the 
copyright sole holder however.

The GPL licence statement in the file norm.R is because there are several 
lines of code in that file copied verbatim from the function simpleLoess 
in the stats package (as acknowledged in the code comments).  It was 
therefore necessary for me to reproduce the license statement from the 
stats package.  I can see the potential complication of having two 
different license statements in the package, and am happy to take advice 
on this.

Hope this doesn't put up any unnecessary barriers.

Best wishes

Professor Gordon K Smyth,
Bioinformatics Division,
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research,
1G Royal Parade, Parkville, Vic 3052, Australia.
smyth at wehi.edu.au

On Sun, 15 May 2011, Charles Plessy wrote:

> Dear Dr. Smyth,
> I am preparing to package Limma for the Debian operating system.  We are taking
> great care to distribute only free software, and I would like to ask you three
> questions about Limma.
> - There is no Copyright claim in the source code.  Can we assume that the
>   authors listed in the DESCRIPTION file are copyright holders ?
> - Which version of the LGPL applies to Limma ?  Are any later version also
>   acceptable ?
> - The header of R/norm.R indicates the GPL version 2 or superior.  Is it a
>   typo or it it intended ?  If that file is based on a file in another R
>   package, are its copyright holders already included in the author list in
> While I do not doubt that Limma is free software, all our packages include a quite
> precise summary of their copyright and license statements, and therefore I need
> to bother you with my questions...
> Have a nice day,
> -- 
> Charles Plessy
> Debian Med packaging team,
> http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-med
> Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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