[Rd] Copyright issues question

Peter Dalgaard p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk
Mon Jun 14 18:10:14 CEST 2004

Eric Lecoutre <lecoutre at stat.ucl.ac.be> writes:

> Hi to the Devel list,
> I am at present developping a little Excel add-in that would consist
> into a translation of John Fox RCommander package.
> The idea is to have R code that recreates within Excel the menus and
> some VBA part that handles data input and outputs (those beeing
> redirected to HTML and imported within Excel in a user-transparent
> way).
> Actualy, a first beyta version of this add-in exists and has been
> tested successfully on both Office 2000 and Office 2002, although John
> Fox didn't success to make it work on his Office 2003.
> We intended to deliver this add-in as a component of the Rcmdr
> package. But Philippe Grosjean told me I may have problems with that
> as Excel is definitively not GPL... In a way, this add-in provides the
> R/Rmcdr-power to Excel.
> What sort of exact problems can we expect to have? Should we consider
> to propose this as Open Source and not GPL? Do we have to obtain the
> agreement of the R Core Team?

These issues are among the the murkier aspects of GPL. First, most of
R is GPL, so it is difficult to slap any other license onto it or any
glue code. Then there's the issue of whether plugins are a form of
linking or just a way of getting two separate programs to talk
together. Third, the GPL is a distribution license, so the question is
whether the worst thing that could happen would be that Microsoft
cannot distribute your plugin together with Excel...

There used to be an FSF memo on the matter, but I can't find it just
now. Closest relevant link is this one:


(+ the Rosen link inside of it)

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk)             FAX: (+45) 35327907

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