Re: [Rd] Possible GPL Violation

From: Barry Rowlingson <b.rowlingson_at_lancaster.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2008 23:48:34 +0100

2008/10/22 Ian Fellows <ifellows_at_ucsd.edu>:
> Perhaps my understanding of GPL is lacking, but isn't this the reason that
> GPL is different for LGPL? Linking to functions is allowed in the lesser
> license, but not in GPL.
>
> From the gpl faq:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> If a programming language interpreter is released under the GPL, does that
> mean programs written to be interpreted by it must be under GPL-compatible
> licenses?
>
> When the interpreter just interprets a language, the answer is no. The
> interpreted program, to the interpreter, is just data; a free software
> license like the GPL, based on copyright law, cannot limit what data you use
> the interpreter on. You can run it on any data (interpreted program), any
> way you like, and there are no requirements about licensing that data to
> anyone.
>
> However, when the interpreter is extended to provide "bindings" to other
> facilities (often, but not necessarily, libraries), the interpreted program
> is effectively linked to the facilities it uses through these bindings. So
> if these facilities are released under the GPL, the interpreted program that
> uses them must be released in a GPL-compatible way. The JNI or Java Native
> Interface is an example of such a binding mechanism; libraries that are
> accessed in this way are linked dynamically with the Java programs that call
> them. These libraries are also linked with the interpreter. If the
> interpreter is linked statically with these libraries, or if it is designed
> to link dynamically with these specific libraries, then it too needs to be
> released in a GPL-compatible way.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> My understanding of this is that any function can be distributed under any
> terms that you wish, so long as they don't use any GPL higher level
> functions (i.e. ones not directly implemented by the language). What
> constitutes higher level is a little bit fuzzy to me, but I suppose that the
> package Stats might qualify.

 I think the issue is with distributing the whole thing - R plus your code - and what license you have to use. I can't be stopped from releasing anything I write under whatever license I choose. So even if I write some C code that links into R or even patches R, I can release that C code on its own under any license I like.

 However I can't distribute that code *with R* and keep my code under a non-GPL license. I can distribute them separately though.

 Also, I've been trying to figure out what this Robust Statistics thing they are offering is exactly. It's not even for sale yet:

"The ZumaStat robust statistics package that interfaces with R is offered separate from other ZumaStat programs. The robust statistics package is finished by I am waiting for SPSS to work out the bug described below (in red) before I release it."

 which I fail to parse properly... But it's possible that it doesn't contain much R code at all, and it's just data interchange between SPSS and robust statistics functions included in R. This wouldn't make the system a "single program".

 The law books were more interesting than the girlfriend...

Barry



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