Re: [Rd] Rcpp: Clarifying the meaning of GPL?

From: Stavros Macrakis <macrakis_at_alum.mit.edu>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2009 23:08:33 -0500

I am not sure what clause of the GPL you have in mind when you say that "it explicitly states that these changes should not leave misleading impressions about the original developer."

Are you perhaps thinking of the passage in Section 7 which says:

       Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, for material you add to a covered work, you may (if authorized by the copyright holders of that material) supplement the terms of this License with terms:

... c) Prohibiting misrepresentation of the origin of that material, or requiring that modified versions of such material be marked in reasonable ways as different from the original version; ... This passage allows you to *supplement* the GPL with additional terms (which you would have had to have done with the version you distributed). It does not in itself prohibit misrepresentation.

That said, as a matter of courtesy and clarity, I'd think that a fork should use a different name.

As for "listing yourself as a copyright holder on source code alongside the original author without that person's permission", under US copyright law (at least), the author of derivative works (things based on the original work such as translations) has every right to be named on the copyright notice; in fact, to enforce the GPL on those supplementary sections, he may even have to be....

                 -s

On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 1:14 PM, Dominick Samperi <djsamperi_at_earthlink.net>wrote:

> I wrote the Rcpp library and the RcppTemplate package to make it
> easier for developers to contribute packages to the R community.
> In addition to providing detailed documentation on
> package creation it provides a clean object mapping between
> R anc C++ that helps developers to implement packages that
> benefit from the performance of C++ and the flexibility of R.
>
> The package named 'Rcpp' was forked from my work and
> is being developed independently, in spite of many protests
> from me. A diff of Rcpp_0.6.6 and RcppTemplate_5.3 (written
> several years ago), both available at CRAN, will show that
> Rcpp added a few cut-and-paste changes. (The latest release
> of Rcpp has been split up and reorganized so that it would
> be difficult to find the differences now.)
>
> More importantly, while GPL gives developers the right to
> make changes (without the permission of the original
> contributor) it explicitly states that these changes should
> not leave misleading impressions about the original
> developer.
>
> Unfortunately, GPL does not spell out what it means to
> be misleading. I think using the same name ('Rcpp')
> as a library still being developed by the original author,
> and listing yourself as a copyright holder on source code
> alongside the original author without that person's
> permission counts as misleading, but that is my
> opinion.
>
> I am posting this message seeking the opinion of others
> in the R community. Perhaps by sharing ideas we can
> "self-organize" and find an interpretation of GPL that
> benefits all R users, and all package contributors as well.
>
> A minimal resolution of this issue would be to simply
> rename 'Rcpp' to something like 'RInside', or to something
> else that is not misleading.
>
> Thanks,
> Dominick
>
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