[R] Legality Question about R's Open Source GNU GPL License

Duncan Murdoch murdoch at stats.uwo.ca
Mon Jul 28 21:29:27 CEST 2008

On 7/28/2008 2:32 PM, zerfetzen wrote:
> Hi,
> I use R at home, and am interested in using it at my work company (which is
> in the Fortune 100).  I began the request, and our legal team has given some
> gruff about the open source license.  Not boring you with the details here,
> but I used some info on gnu.org as a rebuttal, and someone at the company
> replied that the generalities of GNU GPL may differ from R's specific GNU
> GPL license, and that I should refer specifically to it, and it should be on
> the CRAN website.
> I may be blind, but haven't seen such a document.  Does one exist, and how
> may I obtain it?  I believe they are wrong.  Our legal team is notorious for
> being overly conservative, and I'm personally betting they think I won't
> look into it, and then they won't have to deal with it.  But I will, and I
> want to use R.  Thanks.
> PS
> Sorry if the document was posted and obvious, and I simply couldn't find it. 
> Thanks.

It is distributed with R, in the file COPYING. If you haven't installed 
R yet, you can get just that one file from


That is the current development version of R, but that particular file 
hasn't changed since January 2006, and even then it was only a trivial 
change to the address of the FSF.  The substance of the file hasn't 
changed since 1997, when our version tracking began.

Duncan Murdoch

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