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

From: David Henderson <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 17:04:11 -0700

Hello Gad:

On Jul 29, 2008, at 4:41 PM, Gad Abraham wrote:

>> If your legal department is still concerned, have them look at the
>> license in Java. It most likely is GPL (unless you have a special
>> commercial version of Java installed) and thus makes any Java
>> program you create subject to the GPL in Java due to the JIT
>> compiler used in Java. If your legal department does not have a
>> problem with Java, then they should not have a problem with R.
> This is conflating two issues, the license of the compiler/
> interpreter, and the license of the code you wrote in that language.
> From
> ``Can I use GPL-covered editors such as GNU Emacs to develop non-
> free programs? Can I use GPL-covered tools such as GCC to compile
> them?
> Yes, because the copyright on the editors and tools does not cover
> the code you write. Using them does not place any restrictions,
> legally, on the license you use for your code.
> Some programs copy parts of themselves into the output for technical
> reasons--for example, Bison copies a standard parser program into
> its output file. In such cases, the copied text in the output is
> covered by the same license that covers it in the source code.
> Meanwhile, the part of the output which is derived from the
> program's input inherits the copyright status of the input.
> As it happens, Bison can also be used to develop non-free programs.
> This is because we decided to explicitly permit the use of the Bison
> standard parser program in Bison output files without restriction.
> We made the decision because there were other tools comparable to
> Bison which already permitted use for non-free programs.''

The issue I was addressing here was actually that when you write a Java program, it is compiled at runtime and then linked to the other com libraries that come with the installation that are under the GPL license. It is this linking that happens at compile time that invokes the Java GPL over the license you apply to your code.

We should probably move this off-line if we need to discuss this further and maybe update the list once we've reached a conclusion (if we do), rather than continue a long off-topic, but relevant, discussion.


Dave H

David Henderson, Ph.D.
1535 NW 51st ST
Seatle, WA 98107

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Received on Wed 30 Jul 2008 - 00:09:19 GMT

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