Re: [R] Taking code from packages

From: Prof Brian Ripley <ripley_at_stats.ox.ac.uk>
Date: Sat 14 Jan 2006 - 03:06:04 EST

The thing that is most important and has not been mentioned is to ensure that modified functions have a changed name.

People have taken my code without consulting me, changed what it did and put it up in a package with the original name (and no indication that I was the author), and then quoted GPL at me when I complained. So this may perhaps help you understand where some of your answers are coming from.

I would suggest adding to your suggested documentation the exact source you used (it makes it easier to find out if that had been updated later).

R itself borrows software from other packages, and you will see some examples of how it is referenced in various places including COPYRIGHTS. In retrospect we should have been more careful to rename things, e.g. entry points in conpiled code, even if we made no changes as the original author might want to use his current versions with R.

On Fri, 13 Jan 2006, Ales Ziberna wrote:

> First thank you for you reply!
>
>
>
> First let me assure you that I did not think or intent to just use their
> code and use GPL as an excuse.
>
>
>
> Although I would like to just make my package dependant on theirs and use
> their functions that is not possible. The main reason is that I do not want
> to use the whole functions, but just parts of it. For example, I only need
> one statistics, while their function computes several. Since I call my
> function several thousand times, I want to make it as fast as possible.
>
>
>
> I am also modified (although only slightly) the functions, I am a little
> worried about naming them as sole authors of the function, since I do not
> want to make them responsible for any mistakes I have made.
>
>
>
> What I was thinking of doing is:
>
> 1.. Notify the original authors!
> 2.. In the Author (s) section of the function help, I would write "Their
> name (Modifications made by My Name").
> 3.. Use the same license (GPL 2) as they do.
>
> I did not intent to write them as the package authors, since their code
> represent a very small part of the whole package.
>
>
>
> How does that sound?
>
>
>
> Best regards,
>
> Ales Ziberna
>
>
>
> P.S.: I did not find any other special copyright notices.
>
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Duncan Murdoch" <murdoch@stats.uwo.ca>
> To: "Ales Ziberna" <aleszib@gmail.com>
> Cc: <r-help@stat.math.ethz.ch>
> Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 1:46 PM
> Subject: Re: [R] Taking code from packages
>
>
> On 1/13/2006 2:04 AM, Ales Ziberna wrote:
>> Hello!
>>
>> I am currently in the process of creating (my first) package, which (when
>> ready) I intend to publish to CRAN. In the process of creating this
>> package
>> I have taken some code form existing packages. I have actually copied
>> parts
>> of functions in to new functions. This code is usually something very
>> basic
>> such as Rand index. What is the proper procedure for this?
>>
>> Since most of R (and also the packages I have taken code form) is
>> published
>> under GPL, I think this should be OK. However I do not know if:
>> 1. I should still ask authors of the packages for permission or at
>> least notify them.
>
> It is polite to notify them.
>
>> 2. Ad references to the functions (and packages) from which I had taken
>> the code or only to the references they use.
>
> The GPL requires that you maintain their copyright notices. You have
> the right to use their work, the GPL doesn't give you ownership of it.
> The usual way to do this is to leave their copyright notice intact, and
> add your own if you have made modifications.
>
> An alternative which is usually (but not always) better is to say that
> your package depends on theirs, and then just use their functions. The
> advantage is that it avoids any of the above mixed copyright issues, and
> it makes sure that when the author fixes a bug, you benefit too. The
> disadvantage is that it makes your package dependent on theirs, so if
> changes are needed in it for some future version of R, you'll have to
> wait for the other maintainer to do them (or copy their code at that point).
>
> (I'm a little sensitive about dependencies now, since the LaTeX seminar
> template I've used a few times no longer works. It depends on too many
> LaTeX packages, and someone, somewhere has introduced incompatibilities
> in them. Seems like I'll be forced to use Powerpoint or Impress.)
>
> Duncan Murdoch
>
>>
>> What about regarding code that was sent to the list, usually as a response
>> to one of my problems. I assume that in this case it is best to consult
>> the
>> author?
>
>> Any comments and opinions are very welcomed!
>>
>> Best regards,
>> Ales Ziberna
>>
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>
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-- 
Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley@stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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Received on Sat Jan 14 03:22:13 2006

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