Copyrights on CRAN/src/contrib libraries

Douglas Bates
19 Mar 1998 14:12:17 -0600

Sorry to bring up this old topic again but ...

The 2.0 release of Debian Linux is about to happen and the release
team requires copyright statements on any code included in the
release.  Presently there are 4 packages that I have created from R
source code and libraries and contributed to the release.  I think
this will help with the visibility of R when there is a well-regarded
release of an operating system that includes R as an integral part of
the operating system.  Regretably I will probably have to cut back to
3 packages because of copyright problems.

The packages are:
 r-base_0.61.2-0     - based on CRAN/src/base/R-0.61.2.tgz
                       All code is GPL or BSD-license or Artistic license
 r-cran_0.61.1-0     - includes from CRAN/src/contrib the libraries
                       class, ctest, e1071, jpn, nnet, oz, polynom,
                       quadprog, rational, spatial, and splines.
  All this code is described as having the GPL for a copyright except
  for jpn which is described as
 License: Created by Data Science Group in Keio University, Japan.  May
   freely be distributed with R.
  I may end up having to remove that library because the statement is
  too vague.

 r-mlbench_0.61.1-0  - the library from CRAN/src/contrib/mlbench.  Its 
  license is described as "free for non-commercial purposes".  There is
  a possibility I will have to remove this one as well but I don't think
  so.  All the code here was written by Fritz Leisch and is covered by
  the GPL.  All the rest of the library is data sets that were converted
  by Fritz.  I believe that data themselves cannot be copyrighted - only
  a particular representation of the data such as a table can be
  copyrighted.  In this case, since Fritz converted the data to a format
  to be read into R, the representation is covered by Fritz putting it
  under the GPL.  I would appreciate hearing from anyone who feels I am
  misinterpreting the copyright status here.
 r-cran-non-free_0.61.1-0 - remaining libraries with .DESCRIPTION
                            files from CRAN/src/contrib.  These include
                            bootstrap, fracdiff, principal.curve, and xgobi.
  I think these will have to be removed.  The bootstrap and
  principal.curve libraries have no clear statement of copyright.  The
  fracdiff library says "free for non-commercial purposes" but that is 
  not as specific as it needs to be.  The xgobi library is covered
  under a specific copyright but I think we will fold that into the
  xgobi package rather than the R packages.

Does anyone think I have misplaced one or more of the libraries?

Do you have further copyright clarifications that could help out?

Finally a plea.  Please, when you do contribute a library or other
code, make sure you state the copyright conditions clearly.  If you
don't want to make a big deal about copyright then I recommend that
you use the GPL.  Look at the Appendix at the end of the file COPYING
in the main directory of the R source code for instructions on how to
do this.
Douglas Bates                  
Statistics Department                    608/262-2598
University of Wisconsin - Madison
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