Re: [Rd] Possible GPL Violation

From: Ian Fellows <>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2008 14:43:42 -0700

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.


IANAL either, and I haven't read any contract law books. So please let me know where I'm going astray (as I go astray often).

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Barry Rowlingson
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 2:18 PM To: Ian Fellows
Subject: Re: [Rd] Possible GPL Violation

> It seems unlikely that the functionality of this program can be separated
> from the R-packages upon which it relies, thus making them one work
> to GPL. Does anyone have any experience with this software/company? Any
> thoughts?

 They're not distributing R itself:

 "You must have R on your computer to use these programs. R is freeware and complete instructions for obtaining and installing it are contained in ZumaStat."

 So, not a GPL violation in my opinion. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, although I read some of my ex-girlfriend's contract law books...

Barry mailing list Received on Wed 22 Oct 2008 - 21:46:59 GMT

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