[Rd] Copyright issues question

Thomas Lumley tlumley at u.washington.edu
Wed Jun 16 17:19:20 CEST 2004

On Wed, 16 Jun 2004, Philippe Grosjean wrote:

> >> Eric Lecoutre <lecoutre at stat.ucl.ac.be> writes:
> >>
> >> >
> >> > 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?
> >>
> Thomas Lumley answered:
> >It might also be worth pointing out that the R Core Team's agreement is
> >neither necessary nor sufficient.  The GPL permits whatever it permits,
> >and R as it stands is covered by the GPL, rather than by what the
> >developers would like on a case-by-case basis.
> >	-thomas
> OK, that is probably true. However, in GPL 2, you have:
> 10. If you wish to incorporate parts of the Program into other free
> programs whose distribution conditions are different, write to the author
> to ask for permission.

There are two points here.  The first is that, as Duncan has pointed out,
the R distribution contains GPL code written by people other than us.  It
might well be possible to extract a working subset that we could release
under another license, but it would take quite a bit of effort.

The second point is that one of your concerns is about areas where the GPL
is not clear.  If it isn't clear to you then asking us won't help. We are
not experts in what the GPL means, nor do we have the authority to change
what it means.  It would still be polite to ask about uses of R that the
developers might personally object to, but there is no legal benefit in
doing so.

On the other hand, as the early history of KDE shows, it is possible for
free software to be produced and become popular even when there are honest
differences of opinion about the legalities.


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