[R] Using R in our commercial business application

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Thu Sep 18 22:42:18 CEST 2014

On 18/09/2014 2:35 PM, Marc Schwartz wrote:
> On Sep 18, 2014, at 4:36 AM, Pasu <pasupathym at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi
> >
> > I would like to know how to use R in our commercial business application
> > which we plan to host in cloud or deploy on customer's premise.
> >
> > 1. Using R and its package, does it enforce that my commercial business
> > application should be distributed under GPL, as the statistical derivation
> > (output) by using R will be presented to the end users as part of of our
> > commercial business application
> > 2. Whom to contact to get commercial license if required for using R?
> >
> > Rgds
> > Pasupathy
> You will not get a definitive legal opinion here and my comments below do not represent any formal opinion on the part of any organization.
> There is nothing preventing you or your company from using R as an end user. There are many of us who use R in commercial settings and in general, the output of a GPL'd application (text or binary) is not considered to be also GPL'd.
> The subtleties get into the distribution of R (which you seem to plan to do), the nature of any additional functionality/code that you or your company may write/distribute, how that code interacts with R and/or modifies R source code copyrighted by the R Foundation and others. If you distribute R to clients, you will need to make R's source code available to them in some manner along with any modifications to that same code, while preserving appropriate copyrights.
> A proprietary (closed source) application cannot be licensed under the GPL, but your company's application/code may be forced to be GPL (the so called viral aspect of the GPL) depending upon how your application is implemented as I noted in the prior paragraph. Thus, you may be forced to make your source code available to your clients as well.
> If you plan to move forward, you should consult with an attorney well educated in software licensing and distribution issues, especially as they pertain to the GPL. The risks are not inconsequential of falling on the wrong side of the GPL.
> The official R distribution is not available via a commercial or developer license, but there are commercial vendors of R and a Google search will point you in their direction, if desired. However, since their products are founded upon the official R distribution and the GPL, they will have similar issues with respect to any enhancements that they have created and therefore, your concerns do not necessarily go away. They will have also consulted legal counsel on these issues because the viability of their business depends upon it.

I agree with all of that but for one thing:  not all distributions are 
built on the GPL'd original.  I believe Tibco is selling an independent 

Duncan Murdoch

More information about the R-help mailing list