[R] licensing of R packages

Carlos Ungil carlos.ungil at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 14 17:02:10 CET 2008

Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
> I'm not going into the original question except to point out that R is 
> licensed under GPL-2 and the quote was from the GPL-3 FAQ.  As FSF 
> themselves insist, the two licences are incompatible.

Let me quote the corresponding section in the GPL2 FAQ, then:

> Another similar and very common case is to provide libraries with the
> interpreter which are themselves interpreted. For instance, Perl comes
> with many Perl modules, and a Java implementation comes with many Java
> classes. These libraries and the programs that call them are always
> dynamically linked together.
> A consequence is that if you choose to use GPL'd Perl modules or Java
> classes in your program, you must release the program in a
> GPL-compatible way, regardless of the license used in the Perl or Java
>  interpreter that the combined Perl or Java program will run on.

Core R packages included in the R distribution are in fact "GPL (>= 2)" [*],
but choosing GPLv2 or GPLv3 seems to make no difference in regard to the
issue being discussed (again, according to the interpretation given by the



[*] this is not the case for all the recommended packages in the
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