[R] How can you buy R? [Broadcast]

Liaw, Andy andy_liaw at merck.com
Sat May 20 15:24:45 CEST 2006

My understanding is that if a licensee wants to redistribute GPL code (or
work derived from GPL code), then it has to be done under GPL as well,
meaning the person must make it known to users that they can have access to
the source code if so desired, and they can do anything they want with that
code (including selling), but GPL must remain in force for further
FSF used to sell Emacs source code on tape for around $200, and I believe
Richard Stallman was able to get quite a bit of support through that
channel.  The idea of having R Foundation selling CDs had come up before.
Unfortunately I believe the R Foundation does not have the manpower or
resource to do that.
I do not believe code written in a GPL language is automatically GPL'ed.  To
me a language (or, more specifically, a "system" if you will) is not unlike
an OS.  There are plenty of commercial software for Linux.  I believe those
people must feel quite confident that they are not covered (or "infected"?)
by GPL.
Just my $0.02...


From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch on behalf of Spencer Graves
Sent: Fri 5/19/2006 6:43 PM
To: mschwartz at mn.rr.com
Cc: otter at otter-rsch.com; r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch; Damien Joly
Subject: Re: [R] How can you buy R? [Broadcast]

          I'd like to know what people think is the meaning of section 2.b
the GPL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html#SEC1): 

          "You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in 
whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part 
thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties 
under the terms of this License." 

          After section 2.c, the GPL continues, "If identifiable sections of

that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably 
considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this 
License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you 
distribute them as separate works." 

          I'm not an attorney, but it would seem to me any code written in R
arguably "derived from" R.  Even if R code were not "derived from" R, I 
don't see how it could "reasonably be considered independent" of R.  If 
my interpretation is correct, then any claim by an R package developer 
to a license more restrictive than GPL would not be enforceable;  such 
claim would seem to violate the spirit, intent, and letter of the GPL. 

          A "boundary" case is provided by the "glmmADMB" package.  As I
the GPL, this package must operate under GPL.  This means that if anyone 
wants their source code, the authors of that package are required to 
give it to them.  I just noticed that the version of "glmmADMB" that I 
downloaded 3/14/2006 does NOT contain a "src" subdirectory.  This 
surprises me, given the comment on "http://cran.fhcrc.org/banner.shtml
<http://cran.fhcrc.org/banner.shtml> " 
that "we generally do not accept submissions of precompiled binaries". 
That is, however, not required by the GPL, as I understand it.  Rather, 
it seems to say that Otter Research (http://www.otter-rsch.com/
<http://www.otter-rsch.com/> ), who 
distribute more general "AD Model Builder" software, could be required 
to make freely available source code for all the binaries they use. 
This should be fairly easy for them, because their "AD Model Builder" 
produces C++ code, which they could easily include in a "src" 
subdirectory of their package.  The GPL would NOT require them to 
distribute source code for the "AD Model Builder" itself, since that has 
an independent existence. 

          If anyone has any evidence contradicting the above, I'd like to

          Best Wishes, 
          Spencer Graves 

Marc Schwartz (via MN) wrote: 
> On Fri, 2006-05-19 at 17:59 -0300, Rogerio Porto wrote: 
>> While reading the various answers, I've remembered that 
>> the juridic part can't be that so simple. If I'm not fogeting 
>> something, there are some packages in R that has a more 
>> restrictive licence than GPL. 
>> HTH, 
>> Rogerio. 
> Any CRAN packages (or other R packages not on CRAN) that have 
> "non-commercial" use restrictions, likely would not be able to be used 
> by the OP anyway, even prior to this new policy. 
> So I suspect that this would be a non-issue. 
> If Damien's employer is willing to accept the GPL license (probably the 
> most significant issue) and feels the need to pay for "something", they 
> could make an appropriate donation to the R Foundation. Perhaps even 
> secure a little PR benefit for having done so. 
> Is Damien's employer allowing the use of Firefox instead of IE?  
> If so, the precedent within the confines of the policy has been set 
> already. Firefox is GPL, free and no CD. 
> There is an awful lot of "commercial" software out there than can be 
> purchased online, "properly licensed" and downloaded, without the need 
> for a physical CD. Anti-virus software perhaps being the most notable 
> example. 
> So: 
>   License:             GPL 
>   CD:                  Don't need one 
>   Purchase:            Donation to the R Foundation 
>   Being able to use R: Priceless 
> :-) 
> HTH, 
> Marc Schwartz 
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