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

Chris Brien Chris.Brien at unisa.edu.au
Fri Jan 19 21:28:51 CET 2018

Hi Dirk & Duncan,

I too like GPL and I had thought that the situation was as Duncan outlines. Consequently, I had licensed `foo' as GPL >= 2.

However, because I have been unable to find a discussion of my case, in spite of the extensive material about GNU licensing on the web, I have had difficulty deciding whether or not I was mistaken in applying a GPL license. 

It does seem that the open source philosophy is that all software should be open source and GPL licensing is to promote this, which it does by restricting how you can apply GPL licensing. It would be consistent with this philosophy that GPL does not allow one to `link' with a commercial package. However, somewhat reluctantly it seems, an exception is made under GPL licensing  for linking to commercial `system libraries' because it is necessary to allow this for things like R etc. 

If Bloomberg API is a system library then it also qualifies as an exception. (I have seen the license file and note that you are able to distribute the API.)

In my case `bar' is asreml and I don't believe that it qualifies as a system library. However, I can use it to build my library (asremlPlus) and the maintainers and license owners know that I do this. As a result I am still unsure that GPL can be applied in my case.

Ugh! It is a minefield.

Thanks muchly for your input.



-----Original Message-----
From: Dirk Eddelbuettel [mailto:dirk.eddelbuettel at gmail.com] On Behalf Of Dirk Eddelbuettel
Sent: Saturday, 20 January 2018 2:30 AM
To: Duncan Murdoch
Cc: Chris Brien; r-package-devel at r-project.org
Subject: Re: [R-pkg-devel] Licensing of an R package


I am with Duncan here.

You can license _your_ package any way you want and prefer. I like GPL.

You seem to imply that the GPL license prohibits linking against commercial code.  If that were the case we'd never have R, Emacs, gcc/g++, ... on Windows or macOS or any of the now-essentially-extinct commercial Unux flavours.  We alway link against their system libraries too.

Also look eg at our Rblpapi package.  The Bloomberg API is not open source, but they allow distribution of the (pre-built) library and headers.  Our package, building on top, is GPL-2+. No issues.  (This example is extra fun because CRAN can't distribute the API, but can use it for building our package. Using the package requires having a commercial and expensive Bloomberg terminal license and installation.)


http://dirk.eddelbuettel.com | @eddelbuettel | edd at debian.org

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