[Rd] License status of CRAN packages

Kurt Hornik Kurt.Hornik at wu-wien.ac.at
Fri Apr 24 16:17:53 CEST 2009

>>>>> Ben Goodrich writes:

> Gabor Grothendieck wrote:
>> On Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 4:59 PM, Ben Goodrich <goodrich at fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
>>> Dirk Eddelbuettel <edd <at> debian.org> writes:
>>>> As a non-exhautive list with possible misclassifications, cran2deb currently
>>>> has these packasges as 'maybe not free' and does not build them:
>>>> BARD,BayesDA,CoCo,ConvCalendar,FAiR,PTAk,RScaLAPACK,Rcsdp,SDDA,SGP,
>>>> alphahull,ash,asypow,caMassClass,gpclib,mapproj,matlab,mclust,mclust02,
>>>> mlbench,optmatch,rankreg,realized,rngwell19937,rtiff,rwt,scagnostics,
>>>> sgeostat,spatialkernel,tlnise,xgobi
>>> Small point: FAiR is free. The file LICENSE thing just clarifies that most of
>>> the code is AGPL but a couple files can't be included under the AGPL and are
>>> plain GPL. As far as I can see, R does not give me the option of saying so in a
>>> "standard" way, e.g. putting License: AGPL (>= 3) in the DESCRIPTION file would
>>> only be 95% accurate and putting License: AGPL (>= 3) | GPL (>= 3) is misleading.
>> How about "
>> License: AGPL except for 2 GPL files

> If that would make anyone's life easier without making anyone else's
> life harder, I would be happy to put that in the DESCRIPTION file.

This will be a non-canonical license spec and hence I would ask you to
change back to a canonical one (file LICENSE in your case).

> I have been doing file LICENSE because it parses on

> http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/FAiR/index.html

> and people can click to the LICENSE link to read the details if they
> are interested. But maybe that is not optimal. Dirk?

The current scheme for license specs standardizes the markup to allow
for computing on the specs.  (And in fact, the code I put into 2.9.0
allows for standardizing most non-standard specs.)  For standard
licenses we can easily provide the text as well as maintain info on
whether the license was classified as "free" (e.g. by the FSF) or "open"

AGPL, unfortunately, allows supplements, and hence cannot fully be
standardized.  We've been thinking about extending the current scheme to
indicate a base license plus supplements, but this is still work in


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