[Rd] Licence for datasets in a R-package

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Mon Jul 21 18:49:17 CEST 2014

On 21/07/2014 12:17 PM, Gionata Bocci wrote:
>   Dear List,
>     I am building a R package which collects ecological data about plant
> species from both remote (web) databases and locally stored rda files
> (datasets): these "local rda files" are derived from publicly available
> databases for which no "official" licenses are provided; I was told by the
> creators of these databases that users can use such data provided that the
> correct bibliographic reference is always used (the package is already
> reminding the users about the correct citation(s) to use). I thought a
> CC-by licence would suit this need, thus I am posting here to ask if:
>       1) It is possible to distribute these datasets as rda files within my
> package (which will be released as GPL=>2, thus two different licences will
> be needed for the package)
>       2) If a CC-by licence for these datasets could be included in the
> DESCRIPTION file, using something like "License: CC-by datasets.rda" for
> each rda file (this is based on this stackoverflow thread
> <http://stackoverflow.com/a/4317300>, but CC-by is not among the LICENSES
> cited in http://www.r-project.org/Licenses/): I've already tried to do
> this, but, as a consequence, the "R check" raises a warning.
>     I am aware that this is more a licensing issue then a programming
> problem, but I went through the R FAQ, "Writing R Extensions" and R-devel
> but was not able to sort this problem out (so, please ignore this post if
> you find it OT).
>     I hope the question is not too messy (this is my first time on R-devel).
>     Many thanks for any help you may provide,

If you are not distributing the package to anyone else, you can ignore 
the warning about the bad license field.

If you plan to distribute it on a public repository, you should ask the 
policies of the repository to find out what to do about this. CRAN 
policies are listed at 
http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/policies.html.  There's a link 
from there to the list of acceptable licenses, and it includes some CC 

If some parts of the package are licensed one way and others are 
licensed in another way, you'll probably need a COPYRIGHTS file to 
describe it.

Other repositories (e.g. Bioconductor, Github) presumably have their own 
policies on this, but I don't know where to find those.

Duncan Murdoch

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