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

From: Sean O'Riordain <>
Date: Wed, 23 Dec 2009 18:17:13 +0000

Good afternoon,

While I don't know the history of this particular conflict - to me the entire *purpose* of the GPL is to ALLOW forking of code which must remain in public. If somebody forks code and makes any change whatsoever and then distributes either the diff or the entire previous project, then they can (and probably should) add their name as a copyright holder to the copyrights of previous contributors. They cannot however remove previous copyright holders names so easily.

It should be noted that having multiple independent copyright holder names on a GPL project is normally held as a positive thing - it makes it much harder to un-GPL the project.

Kind regards,

On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 4:05 PM, Dominick Samperi <> wrote:
> In my view what has happened is not much different from a situation where I
> place my
> name as co-author on a research paper that you have created, without your
> permission,
> after making a few small edits that you may not agree with. Furthermore, if
> you complain
> I simply present the results (at conferences) as my own without mentioning
> your name.
> Is this just a dispute between implementers?
> Stavros Macrakis wrote:
>> On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 12:27 AM, Dominick Samperi
>> < <>> wrote:
>>    Stavros Macrakis wrote:
>>        That said, as a matter of courtesy and clarity, I'd think that
>>        a fork should use a different name.
>>    Yes, the point is that this is not a legal or technical matter, it
>>    is a matter of professional courtesy.
>>    I take this as one vote for the name change.
>> The naming and maintenance history of this package (or these packages:
>> Rcpp and RcppTemplate) appears to be complicated, and I have no interest in
>> becoming an arbitrator or voter in what is a dispute between you and other
>> implementers.
>>    On US copyright law, this should not be confused with "copyright"
>>    notices that appear in GPL
>>    source code. Remember that these are really "copyleft" notices,
>>    and copyleft is designed to
>>    protect the rights of copiers, not original contributors.
>> The copyright notice is a correct and legally valid copyright notice.  The
>> GPL (copyleft) is the copyright *license*.  Like all licenses, it defines
>> the relationship between authors and copiers.  The GPL explicitly avoided
>> the so-called "obnoxious BSD advertising clause", which has requirements
>> about giving credit.
>>              -s
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