Re: [Rd] commercial software selling a R module - question about GPL license rights

From: Philippe Grosjean <>
Date: Wed 19 Apr 2006 - 18:45:42 GMT

I understand that it is difficult to make the distinction between "linking" and "derived work". Whatever the conclusion, I always feel a little bit abused when someone wants to "sell" me R somehow (here, you have to pay 3500$/year to use R inside of Pipeline Pilot). I would accept to pay this money if I was in front of R experts that sell me their expertise, indeed. But this is not the case: they don't know much about R, and they made a really ugly and inefficient interface between PP and R that is not worth those 3500$/year.


Philippe Grosjean

Peter Dalgaard wrote:
> Philippe Grosjean <> writes:
>>Hello all,
>>Sorry for this email not directly related to R developement. I just come
>>from a nice demonstration session from Scitegic about their Pipeline
>>Pilot (PP) software, and especially their 'R collection' which brings R
>>calculations into the software
>>I looked carefully on the way they do it: they pass data from PP to R
>>using text files, they call R.exe using a R script and input - output
>>files, like:
>>R.exe --nosave --no-environ --no-resore-data < script.R > output.txt
>>And in the script, you have:
>>which imports the data just exported from PP in an CVS file by the
>>component. I don't want to discuss here the ugly and extremely
>>inefficient solution they use to call R on their data, but anyway...
>>So far, so good, they respect the GPL license since R is not embedded
>>into PP, and you have to download and install it separately.
>>But they also provide a series of "R component" ready to use like 'R
>>ANOVA', 'R PCA', R Neural Net', etc... which are basically R scripts
>>with replaceable variables (replacement is done by PP before feeding the
>>script to the R engine). For instance, you will have:
>>parameter <- $(PPvariable)
>>in the R script. In the PP component, you have an option to specify the
>>value of 'PPvariable', let's say: PPvariable = 10, and the replacement
>>done in the R script is:
>>parameter <- 10
>>before to feed this script to R. So, everything appears transparent to
>>the end-user who parameterizes the scripts from within the PP GUI. That
>>is what they call "each component generates an R script on-the-fly"...
>>However, I was suprised to learn that the Pipeline Pilot R Collection is
>>not GPL and is not free (in term of money, i.e., you have to pay
>>3500$/year to use it). I am not sure, but I think they break the GPL
>>license here since they use a commercial license for, basically, a
>>collection of R scripts embedded in their 'PP components'.
>>Anyone with better expertise than me could look at this, please?
> Offhand, I don't think this is a problem.
> We've discussed a few similar cases. Things are sometimes slightly
> murky due to the FSF's unclear (or undecided) definition of the
> relation between "linking" and "derived work". However, it was never
> the intention that GPL code could not be _used_ by non-free software.
> That point might get clearer if you substitute mySql or a similar
> database instead of R.
> There are some limitations though. In particular if the connection is
> so tight that R has become an integrated part of the application, then
> the rules for derived works may apply.
> mailing list Received on Thu Apr 20 05:10:38 2006

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