[R-pkg-devel] Licensing of an R package

Stefan McKinnon Høj-Edwards sme at iysik.com
Fri Jan 19 10:27:41 CET 2018

Hi Chris,

Just for clarification, there are at least two aspects that affect how you
can license your package.
A) Do you distribute `bar` with your package, or are you simply calling
routines in `bar`?
B) What is the exact license of `bar`?
C) Is there a reason for this secrecy of `bar`? If we knew what it was,
somebody on this list might have experience with it or similar.

If `bar` is not freely available, it doesn't seem your package would be
accepted to CRAN (do correct me if I am wrong).

Stefan McKinnon Hoj-Edwards

Stefan McKinnon Høj-Edwards
ph.d. Genetics
+44 (0)776 231 2464
+45 2888 6598
Skype: stefan_edwards

2018-01-19 8:31 GMT+00:00 Chris Brien <Chris.Brien at unisa.edu.au>:

> Dear list members,
> I have come to realize that my understanding of free software licensing
> was somewhat naïve. The problem is that I now find that, in spite of
> spending quite a bit of time reading about various licenses on the web, I
> have been unable to identify a suitable license for the situation that I
> have with one of my packages.
> I am solely responsible for the development of my package, `foo' say.
> However, most functions in `foo' call functions from a proprietary package,
> `bar' say , the latter not being available from an online software
> repository and consisting of R functions that call routines in a library.
> That is, `foo' enhances `bar'.
> I had thought that a GPL licence was appropriate because (1) `foo' is free
> software and (ii) I do not distribute `bar' with `foo'. That is, I am
> distributing only free software.  However, I have come to understand that
> this is not the case because a free software package linked with a
> proprietary package does not satisfy the requirements to be GPL.
> I have found it difficult to work out a license that might cover my
> package because much of the discussion online covers cases that are the
> opposite of mine i.e. cases where `foo' is proprietary and `bar' is
> freeware. I can appreciate why this needs to be avoided.
> I can also understand that a disadvantage of what I am doing is that it
> tends to entrench the use of such software. While I agree that it is
> desirable that `bar' be replaced with free software, unfortunately `bar'
> has functionality that is currently infeasible to replace with free
> software. At least I am not profiting from the enhancements that I have
> made.
> I am hoping that someone more experienced in software development and
> licensing issues can suggest a license type that might be suitable for
> `foo' such that at least the enhancements that it incorporates remain
> `free'?
> Cheers,
>   Chris Brien
> Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Statistics
> -----
> Phenomics and Bioinformatics Research Centre
> University of South Australia
> GPO Box 2471
> ADELAIDE  5001  South Australia
> Phone:  +61 8 8302 5535   Fax:  +61 8 8302 5785
> Email:   Chris.Brien at unisa.edu.au
> WEB page:  <http://people.unisa.edu.au/Chris.Brien>
> CRICOS No 00121B
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