Re: [R] questions on local customized R distribution CD

From: Prof Brian Ripley <>
Date: Tue 27 Jun 2006 - 22:40:26 EST

On Tue, 27 Jun 2006, Liaw, Andy wrote:

> From: Duncan Murdoch
>> On 6/26/2006 3:14 PM, Dongseok Choi wrote:
>>> Hello all!
>>> I hope this is the right place to post this question.
>>> The Oregon Chapter of ASA is working with local high
>> school teachers as one of its outreaching program.
>>> We hope to use and test R as teaching tools.
>>> So, we think that a menu system (like R commander) with a
>> few packages and a bit simplified installation instruction
>> need to be developed.
>>> The main question is:
>>> 1)
>>> Is it OK to develop a customized CD-ROM distribution of R
>> with pre-selected packages for high school?
>>> It will be distributed free, of course.
>>> Also, we plan to make it available from the chap web or
>> deposit it to R-project, if requested.
>> Generally the answer is yes, but read the GPL for the
>> conditions. You do need to make the source code available.

> I was under the impression that telling the user how to get the source code
> would satisfy the GPL, instead of distributing the source along with the
> binary. Is that right?

No, the first part is definitely wrong. (However, you don't have to distribute 'the source along with the binary', unless it is on the Internet.)

The obligation is on the distributor to make the exact sources available, not to rely on anyone else (e.g. CRAN, who might just lose them or not be available 2.99 years from now). The relevant clauses are

     b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
     years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
     cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
     machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
     distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
     customarily used for software interchange; or,

[The following clause c) does not apply if you repackage the distribution.]

If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place counts as distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code.

See e.g.

The easiest way to meet the obligations is to put the sources on the CD, especially as the sources concerned are only around 5% of the capacity of the CD.

Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
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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