[R] Making a new package: licence

Marc Schwartz marc_schwartz at me.com
Fri Jul 8 17:20:36 CEST 2011

On Jul 8, 2011, at 9:58 AM, Spencer Graves wrote:

> On 7/8/2011 4:26 AM, Federico Calboli wrote:
>> On 8 Jul 2011, at 12:06, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>>> On 11-07-08 6:20 AM, Federico Calboli wrote:
>>>> HI All,
>>>> I have written and succesfully uploaded a new package. The licence it is under is 'GPL' --no version. My assumption is, since all the code is written in R the licence R used for R would affect the code (hence my "GPL" stands for "whatever version of the GPL R is under")
>>>> I am happy with the licencing I used, but I'd like to ask if there is any transitive propery of IP licencing or if I am mistaken.
>>> I believe you are mistaken:  your package is your code, so the license someone else used is irrelevant.  I would interpret 'GPL' to mean 'whatever version of GPL the user finds to be convenient'.  So if GPL v1 (which I've never actually seen) or GPL v4 (which has not been released) contained some right that I liked, I would assume that you've granted me that right.
>> Ok, thanks for that. I though that, since R in under GPL-v2, I can only release my code under GPL-v2 because the code is written in R and probably qualifies as a derivative work.
>      Did you include someone else's GPL-vx code (possibly modified by you) as part of your code in a way that someone could claim that your code does NOT have a useful functionality and independent existence without that?  I'm not an attorney, but I have read the GPL and discussed it with attorneys, and it's my understanding that the definition of "derivative work" encompasses essentially what I just described.  Another example:  According to the Wikipedia article on Linux, the (first) GPL was written for the GNU Linux project.  In that context, you can NOT charge someone for Linux nor for any modification of it you may make, because such modifications would make it a derivative work.  However, if you can run your own code written in whatever language under Linux, because presumably your code has an existence independent of Linux and could theoretically run (with modifications) on some other operating system.

Spencer, your comments about charging for Linux are not correct. You are free to charge whatever you think you can sell GPL based software for. Just ask the folks at Red Hat and their shareholders, since RH is a for-profit company. Arguably, they are charging for the value add of their support and service, on top of their Linux distribution (RHEL). You can get a fully free version of RHEL (sans RH copyrighted materials, such as graphics), called CentOS and can obtain the RHEL source RPMS for free.

The GPL is about copying and distribution, not about preventing you from making a profit from it.

BTW, with R 2.13.1, R is now licensed under GPL 2 or 3.

> license()

This software is distributed under the terms of the GNU General
Public License, either Version 2, June 1991 or Version 3, June 2007.
The terms of version 2 of the license are in a file called COPYING
which you should have received with
this software and which can be displayed by RShowDoc("COPYING").

Copies of both versions 2 and 3 of the license can be found
at http://www.R-project.org/Licenses/.

A small number of files (the API header files listed in
R_DOC_DIR/COPYRIGHTS) are distributed under the
Lesser GNU General Public LIcense version 2.1.
This can be displayed by RShowDoc("COPYING.LIB"),
or obtained at the URI given.

'Share and Enjoy.'


Marc Schwartz

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