[R-pkg-devel] Changing License

Thomas Petzoldt thom@@@petzoldt @ending from tu-dre@den@de
Thu Aug 30 16:29:09 CEST 2018


we had a related discussion some time ago in the JSS editorial board. It 
was a long and partly emotional discussion of the pros and cons, but the 
good news was that if a code is MIT, it can be re-licensed as GPL, while 
it would not not be possible in the opposite direction (except by the 
original copyright holders).

MIT is less political and more permissive than GPL, but its disadvantage 
is that someone can take your code, create derived work and then sell 
the derived work as closed source. Even the original developers may be 
excluded from derived work, or have to pay for it.

The JSS board discussion ended with a request in 

"Code needs to include the GNU General Public Licence (GPL), versions 
GPL-2 or GPL-3, or a GPL-compatible license for publication in JSS."

where MIT or BSD can be considered as GPL compatible, while packages 
with some other licenses my need explicit double-licensing by the 
copyright holder, see also:


"Many of the most common free-software licenses, especially the 
permissive licenses, such as the original MIT/X license, BSD licenses 
(in the three-clause and two-clause forms, though not the original 
four-clause form), MPL 2.0, and LGPL, are GPL-compatible. That is, their 
code can be combined with a program under the GPL without conflict, and 
the new combination would have the GPL applied to the whole (but the 
other license would not so apply)."

I would therefore recommend GPL, and you don't make something wrong if 
you re-license derived work using MIT-licensed code under the GPL.


PS: this is my personal conclusion, I am not a lawyer.

Dr. Thomas Petzoldt

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