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

From: Cyrus Harmon <>
Date: Wed 19 Apr 2006 - 19:55:46 GMT

But its value to you and whether or not you would pay for it is a completely separate matter from whether or not they are violating the R license by selling their R collection. I imagine a discussion of the latter is on-topic for this list, less so for the former, I'd imagine.


On Apr 19, 2006, at 11:45 AM, Philippe Grosjean wrote:

> 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.
> Best,
> 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:
>>> read.table(...)
>>> 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 <- $(PPvariable)
>>> in the R script. In the PP component, you have an option to
>>> specify the
>>> value of 'PPvariable', let's say: PPvariable = 10, and the
>>> replacement
>>> done in the R script is:
>>> parameter <- 10
>>> before to feed this script to R. So, everything appears
>>> transparent to
>>> the end-user who parameterizes the scripts from within the PP
>>> GUI. That
>>> is what they call "each component generates an R script on-the-
>>> fly"...
>>> (sic!)
>>> However, I was suprised to learn that the Pipeline Pilot R
>>> Collection is
>>> not GPL and is not free (in term of money, i.e., you have to pay
>>> 3500$/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.
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> mailing list Received on Thu Apr 20 05:58:56 2006

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