Re: [R] How can you buy R?

From: Deepayan Sarkar <deepayan.sarkar_at_gmail.com>
Date: Sat 20 May 2006 - 23:44:35 EST

On 5/19/06, Spencer Graves <spencer.graves@pdf.com> wrote:
> I'd like to know what people think is the meaning of section 2.b of
> the GPL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html#SEC1):
>
> "You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
> whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part
> thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties
> under the terms of this License."
>
> After section 2.c, the GPL continues, "If identifiable sections of
> that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably
> considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this
> License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you
> distribute them as separate works."
>
> I'm not an attorney, but it would seem to me any code written in R is
> arguably "derived from" R. Even if R code were not "derived from" R, I
> don't see how it could "reasonably be considered independent" of R. If
> my interpretation is correct, then any claim by an R package developer
> to a license more restrictive than GPL would not be enforceable; such
> claim would seem to violate the spirit, intent, and letter of the GPL.
>
> A "boundary" case is provided by the "glmmADMB" package. As I read
> the GPL, this package must operate under GPL. This means that if anyone
> wants their source code, the authors of that package are required to
> give it to them. I just noticed that the version of "glmmADMB" that I
> downloaded 3/14/2006 does NOT contain a "src" subdirectory. This
> surprises me, given the comment on "http://cran.fhcrc.org/banner.shtml"
> that "we generally do not accept submissions of precompiled binaries".
> That is, however, not required by the GPL, as I understand it. Rather,
> it seems to say that Otter Research (http://www.otter-rsch.com/), who
> distribute more general "AD Model Builder" software, could be required
> to make freely available source code for all the binaries they use.
> This should be fairly easy for them, because their "AD Model Builder"
> produces C++ code, which they could easily include in a "src"
> subdirectory of their package. The GPL would NOT require them to
> distribute source code for the "AD Model Builder" itself, since that has
> an independent existence.
>
> If anyone has any evidence contradicting the above, I'd like to know.

This sort of question is inevitably answered in the GPL FAQ (which is intended for the non-lawyers among us, unlike the GPL):

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html

My personal feeling has been that very few people on the R lists understand the GPL, so I would not recommend posts here as a source of knowledge on the matter :-)

Deepayan



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