R-beta: Hmisc and R

Prof Brian D Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Fri Aug 21 09:01:41 CEST 1998

On Fri, 21 Aug 1998, Bill Venables wrote:

> >>>>> "Herve" == herve dreau <dreau at hbroussais.fr> writes:
>     Herve> Hello, I want to try the Design and Hmisc library from
>     Herve> FE Harrell but, i have trouble with the copyright for
>     Herve> the library Hmisc :
>     Herve> in the home of the author :
>     Herve> http://fharrell.biostat.virginia.edu/s/unix/
>     Herve> in the file Hmisc.README
>     Herve> ###COPYRIGHT NOTICE
>     Herve> ###You may not port code in the Hmisc library to R.
>     Herve> Aie, Why ????  
> I have no idea why, but I suggest that if the author has placed
> that restriction on the code in his official web page it should
> be respected, irrespective of what more lenient restrictions may
> appear on other, older versions elsewhere, such as in statlib.

That is my view too, although privately I have suggested to M Dreau that he
approach Dr Harrell to see if he would also object to the porting of
earlier versions. 

As to why, I can only give my own reaction. My early reactions were to
consider seriously stopping anyone else porting my code to R.  The reasons
are to do with support. S-PLUS users of my code seem to feel it is my
responsibility to provide technical support, my fault if the answers given
by the software are not what they expect, and that I should debug their
brain-damaged installations, as well of course as read the documentation
for them. Of course, this is only some users, but complaints outnumber
plaudits by a large margin, and contributions of enhancements by even more. 
Worse (and I know this also annoys Dr Harrell) people post complaints to
lists before giving the author a chance to respond.

In the end our (Bill V. and I) decision was to port our code to R ourselves
(even though I at least use R for no other purpose), but I would have a
great deal of sympathy for a software author who wanted to limit his
exposure to support requests, especially on a platform he did not use.

Brian Ripley

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272860 (secr)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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