[R] What a contortion of the GPL.

Bill Venables Bill.Venables at cmis.csiro.au
Fri Sep 8 05:44:17 CEST 2000

At 19:49 07/09/00 -0700, A.J. Rossini wrote:
>I've had some "interesting" emails with Frank a while back (years?)
>over this.  He's got some valid points, and some amusing points...
>He's also recently realized the extent and importance that licenses
>have in the real world.  
>However, the port is fairly major (I know a few people who will remain
>nameless who have started it at various times), and the licensing is
>still "compatible" as well as legal, in the sense that he wants, which
>is the crux of the issue.
>I researched this a while back, after getting seriously annoyed by a
>few departments/companies, and wanted to release code (ESS :-) under a
>"GPL but so-and-so can never use it".  It's legal but definitely in
>poor taste.  And I grew up and didn't.
>Frank's case is a bit different, he's got reasons, which are based on
>experiences he doesn't want to have happen again.  It's not personally
>vindictive, at least as far as I know.

Yes, indeed.

Let me try to put the point I was making in slightly more diplomatic language.

Frank Harrell is one of the more generous and engaging people you are ever
likely to meet.  I don't believe, either, that vindictiveness or hostility
towards the R project has anything to do with the restriction.  The fact
remains, however, that the code has been issued free of charge to the
public under a very specific condition and I suggest that the decent thing
to do is to honour that condition willingly and without complaint.

It may also be the smart thing to do.

We had a few doubts at the start, but now I personally believe that opening
up our stuff to the R project was one of the smarter moves Brian Ripley and
I made, and that in the future this will be proven again and again.  Had
Brian not done the port himself I can tell you now that the MASS material
you might have had in R would be pretty second rate stuff.  Now if Frank
Harrell is a smart man...

Bill Venables.
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