[R-pkg-devel] GPL + other licence

Kasper Daniel Hansen kasperdanielhansen at gmail.com
Tue Apr 10 11:45:11 CEST 2018

There are 3 solutions.  (1) You (get permission) to change the library to
GPL.  (2) You get permission to change the license of the R code to
whatever license the library is released under.  (3) you split the package.

You have investigated (1) and it does not work.  I would suggest thinking
about (2) provided the license of the library is decent.  This is what we
did with Rgraphviz some years ago; Graphviz itself is licensed under the
Eclipse public license and there was no way I could get a company to change
the license of that code.

I would do whatever I can to avoid splitting the package.


On Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 8:44 PM, David C Sterratt <david.c.sterratt at ed.ac.uk>

> Dear all,
> I'd appreciate help with a licence conundrum I have with the geometry
> package (https://davidcsterratt.github.io/geometry/) that I maintain.
> The geometry package contains some functions (e.g. convhulln(),
> delaunayn()) that wrap the Qhull library (http://www.qhull.org), which
> has its own, non-GPL, licence. The geometry package includes this source
> code, and wraps it in C files that have GPL licence headers.
> The geometry package also has functions that are not derived from Qhull
> code and which are licensed under GPL, including a number of functions
> that are ports of the Matlab distmesh package, and some other useful
> functions to do with triangulation and coordinate systems (e.g.
> tsearch() and cart2bary()).
> I inherited this situation when I took over maintaining the package 8
> years ago, though I have added functions to both Qhull-derived and GPL
> categories.
> In October last year I submitted the latest version of the geometry
> package, which adds quite a bit of useful functionality:
> https://github.com/davidcsterratt/geometry/blob/master/pkg/NEWS
> I received the following response from the CRAN maintainers:
>   For the license. It is CRAN policy that a package has to have a single
>   license. Can you manage to convince all copyright hoders (e.g. of
>   Qhull) to relicense under GPL?
> I tried persuading the author of Qhull. He replied:
>   There's only one license and that's the one included with the code
>   (COPYING.txt). Several years ago, I tried to clarify the license with
>   the Univ. of Minn. but had no success. So I think the best approach is
>   to keep the original license as is. It has not been an issue so far.
> At the same time as I wrote to the Qhull maintainer, I wrote to the CRAN
> maintainers:
>   I have written to the Qhull maintainer, but I doubt he will want to
>   change the license, since Qhull is used in proprietary software such
>   as MATLAB. Assuming this is the case, we'll have to create a new
>   package - I would need help with managing the change for dependent
>   packages.
> The CRAN maintainers replied:
>   Please try to find out how this can work.
> In principle I could create a package containing only the functions
> derived from Qhull (but still with GPL headers in the wrapper C files,
> see e.g.,
> https://github.com/davidcsterratt/geometry/blob/
> master/pkg/src/Rconvhulln.c
> But wouldn't this package still have to have two licenses, due to the
> GPL headers?
> I don't want to start on any package splitting without having a plan
> agreed that I know will be OK for CRAN. It would be quite a bit of work,
> as there are a number of packages that depend on geometry, so I would
> have to check all the revdeps for functions that they call in the
> geometry package. I would have to then perhaps write wrapper functions
> in the geometry package to make sure any functions moved to a new
> package still worked when called from revdeps.
> I know the CRAN maintainers are busy, so any help from the list would be
> much appreciated.
> Best wishes,
> David.
> --
> David C Sterratt, Senior Research Associate
> Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation, School of Informatics
> University of Edinburgh, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB, Scotland,
> UK
> http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/sterratt - tel: +44 131 651 1739
> --
> The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
> Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
> ______________________________________________
> R-package-devel at r-project.org mailing list
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