[R] Using R in our commercial business application

peter dalgaard pdalgd at gmail.com
Fri Sep 19 12:06:08 CEST 2014

There is no such person, because we don't do commercial licensing. This is pretty much impossible because the R developers do not own every piece of software that is used inside R. 

There are however companies that sell commercial support for R, and they will likely be able to help you about the dos and don'ts of using GPL'd software for commercial endeavours.

As others have indicated, it is not attractive to try and play amateur lawyer on the corner cases of the GPL. It hinges on the concepts of "derived work" contra "mere aggregation", and whether your plan involves distribution of the combined work. 

- Peter D. 

On 19 Sep 2014, at 10:30 , Pasu <pasupathym at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi
> Thanks to all for the inputs. It will also be great to get inputs on the
> procedure and the contact person for getting the commercial license on R
> Rgds
> Pasu
> On 19-Sep-2014 2:13 AM, "Duncan Murdoch" <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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
>> implementation.
>> Duncan Murdoch
> 	[[alternative HTML version deleted]]
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Peter Dalgaard, Professor,
Center for Statistics, Copenhagen Business School
Solbjerg Plads 3, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Phone: (+45)38153501
Email: pd.mes at cbs.dk  Priv: PDalgd at gmail.com

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