[R] Legality of copying from Splus.

Christian Hoffmann christian.hoffmann at wsl.ch
Thu Jun 20 16:42:37 CEST 2002

Further question (may be stupid)

Technically, anyone could take a mathemathical algorithm published anywhere
or invented by himself and turn it into a working R function. How could
lawyers representing S+2000 possibly determine that my function is reverse
engineered, and not invented by me? FFT e.g. has been in the literature
since its invention. Am I prohibited to write my own version of it, even if
it happens to have the same argument list as that of S+ ? Or even almost
all of R??

Just some thoughts

>Delivered-To: hoffmann at wsl.ch
>Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 15:22:29 +0100 (GMT Daylight Time)
>From: Prof Brian D Ripley <ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk>
>To: Rolf Turner <rolf at math.unb.ca>
>cc: r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch
>Subject: Re: [R] Legality of copying from Splus.
>Sender: owner-r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch
>On Thu, 20 Jun 2002, Rolf Turner wrote:
>> A few days ago, I sent a question to the r-help list enquiring
>> about the
>> 		        *** LEGALITY ***
>> of porting a function from Splus into R.  As a particular example,
>> I referred to error.bar.
>> Several people posted code for various versions of error.bar which
>> they had written, but that was NOT WHAT I WAS ASKING FOR/ABOUT!!!
>> [Can't anybody ***read*** these days?]
>> I asked:  IS IT LEGAL/ETHICAL to take a copy of an Splus function
>> (written in raw S), ***such as*** error.bar, and make it into an R
>> function?  Is it OK to do this for one's own personal use?  What
>> about making such a function available to other R users (who may not
>> have Splus licenses)?
>> Would the big guns from the R community please comment on this?
>Isn't this a question about your S-PLUS license and to be addressed to your
>intellectual property rights dept (and many Universities now have one)
>and/or the ethics committee?  It is also country-specific (and that can
>make a vast difference).  To find out about legality, ask a lawyer.
>However, even a lawyer needs to know some of the details.  Here are two
>extracts from the S+2000 License (for the US, I believe, since they are
>clipped from a PDF manual) which indicate the scope of the claims which
>such a license makes:
>  Both the Software and the documentation are protected under
>  applicable copyright laws, international treaty provisions, and trade
>  secret statutes of the various states. This Agreement grants you a
>  personal, limited, nonexclusive, nontransferable license to use the
>  Software and the documentation.
>  You may not translate, reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble
>  the Software, except and only to the extent that such activity is
>  expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.
>(BTW, these extracts are copyright too, used here under `fair use'
>Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
>Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
>University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
>1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272860 (secr)
>Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595
>r-help mailing list -- Read http://www.ci.tuwien.ac.at/~hornik/R/R-FAQ.html
>Send "info", "help", or "[un]subscribe"
>(in the "body", not the subject !)  To: r-help-request at stat.math.ethz.ch
Dr.sc.math.Christian W. Hoffmann
Mathematics and Statistical Computing
Landscape Dynamics and Spatial Development
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL 
Zuercherstrasse 111
CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
phone: ++41-1-739 22 77    fax: ++41-1-739 22 15
e-mail: christian.hoffmann at wsl.ch
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