[Rcpp-devel] [Rd] GPL and R Community Policies (Rcpp)

Dominick Samperi djsamperi at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 16:31:47 CET 2010

On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 10:21 AM, Spencer Graves <
spencer.graves at structuremonitoring.com> wrote:

> On 12/2/2010 6:20 AM, Martyn Plummer wrote:
>> Dear Dominick,
>> The R community does not have a conflict resolution mechanism.  We are
>> quite used to disputes that end with one party, usually a recognized
>> authority, saying "No, you are objectively, verifiably wrong".   We
>> cannot, as a group, deal with anything else.
>> Everybody knows that you have an acrimonious relationship with the
>> current developers of Rcpp (and if they don't then a cursory look at the
>> rcpp-devel archives will confirm this).  The issue of the acknowledgment
>> that you are complaining about is merely a symptom of the further
>> deterioration of this relationship.   Appeals to authority or public
>> opinion are not going to help you obtain satisfaction.
>> Having your free software taken up and developed by other people is not
>> the worst thing that can happen.  For a free software developer, the
>> worst thing that can happen is that they get run over by a proverbial
>> bus and their software dies with them.
> Somewhere close to the worst is that no one every uses your software.

Worst yet is having to compete with your own work.

>  Martyn
>> On Wed, 2010-12-01 at 13:21 -0500, Dominick Samperi wrote:
>>> This post asks members of the R community, users and developers,
>>> to comment on issues related to the GNU Public License
>>> and R community policies more generally.
>>> The GPL says very little about protecting the the rights of original
>>> contributors by not disseminating  misleading information about them.
>>> Indeed, for pragmatic reasons it effectively assumes that original
>>> authors
>>> have no rights regarding their GPL-ed software, and it implicitly leaves
>>> it up to the community of developers and users to conduct themselves in a
>>> fair and
>>> reasonable manner.
>>> After discussing these matters with Richard Stallman I think
>>> we more-or-less agreed that a GPL "copyright" notice is nothing
>>> more than a way to deputise people to serve as protectors of the
>>> principles of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). It has nothing to
>>> do with protecting the "rights" or the "ideas" of original
>>> contributors. There is no peer review, no requirement to
>>> explain your contributions, and anybody can essentially
>>> do as they please with the software provided they retain
>>> the copyright/FSF deputy notice---of course, you can
>>> always work-around this last restriction by modifying the
>>> implementation and placing it in a new file, because
>>> nobody is checking (GPL doesn't require it).
>>> The GPL is all about "freedom", not responsibility. It is entirely
>>> focused on "deregulation", not on the protection of intellectual
>>> property or professional reputations. It serves the useful purpose
>>> of making great software more widely available, but it does not
>>> dictate how people should behave and should not be used
>>> as a moral compass.  (See recent book titled
>>> "You are not a gadget: a manifesto", a rejoinder to the
>>> GNU manifesto.)
>>> As a counterbalance I think the community of developers and
>>> users need to play a more active role in the evolution of
>>> shared values and expectations. In this spirit I respectfully request
>>> that the R community consider the following.
>>> The author line of the latest release of the R package
>>> Rcpp (0.8.9) was revised as follows:
>>> From: "based on code written during 2005 and 2006 by Dominick Samperi"
>>> To: "a small portion of the code is based on code written during 2005 and
>>> 2006 by Dominick Samperi"
>>> As it is highly unusual (and largely impossible) to quantify the relative
>>> size of the the contribution made by each author of GPL'ed software, this
>>> has
>>> effectively changed an acknowledgment into a disparaging remark. It
>>> is also misleading, because I am the original creator of the Rcpp library
>>> and package (it was forked by Dirk Eddelbuettel and is now effectively
>>> part of R core development). Incidentally, the README file for
>>> Rcpp 0.6.7 shows that my contributions and influence were not
>>> confined to the period 2005-2006.
>>> A look at the change history of Rcpp would quickly reveal that to be
>>> fair other authors of Rcpp (and perhaps other R package authors)
>>> should have their contributions qualified with "a small portion of the
>>> code",
>>> or "administered by", but this is precisely the kind of monitoring that
>>> inspired Richard Stallman to say we must "chuck the masks" in the
>>> GNU Manifesto.
>>> It is obviously a great benefit for the R community to have Rcpp actively
>>> supported by the R core team. I am very grateful for this. What I do
>>> have a problem with is the fact that my contributions are disparaged
>>> by people who have benefited from my past work.
>>> It seems to me that there are two possible resolutions. First, if my
>>> name is used in the Rcpp package it should be used to provide fair,
>>> accurate, and courteous acknowledgement for my past contributions.
>>> Second, if this is not possible, then my name should not be used at all.
>>> If the second option is selected then the only place my name should
>>> appear is in the copyright ("deputy") notices.
>>> Incidentally, the fact that the word "copyright" is profoundly misleading
>>> in
>>> the context of GPL is not a new idea, and the word "copyleft" is
>>> sometimes used instead. But copyleft is not used in source files
>>> because this would unlink GPL from the well-established legal
>>> framework associated with "copyright", making it more difficult for
>>> the FSF to enforce its principles (the critical link is provided by
>>> the copyright holders or "deputies").
>>> A final clarification: authors of original works do retain a legal
>>> copyright on  their original work in the sense that they are free
>>> to modify this work and release it as non-free software (or
>>> under a different free license), but this has no effect on the
>>> version that was released under GPL. The latter version and
>>> all of its progeny belong to the public (or to the FSF from
>>> a legal point of view).
>>> Please feel free to express your opinion on these matters.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Dominick
>>>        [[alternative HTML version deleted]]
>>> ______________________________________________
>>> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
>>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
>> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> This message and its attachments are strictly confidenti...{{dropped:8}}
>> ______________________________________________
>> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
> --
> Spencer Graves, PE, PhD
> President and Chief Operating Officer
> Structure Inspection and Monitoring, Inc.
> 751 Emerson Ct.
> San José, CA 95126
> ph:  408-655-4567
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.r-forge.r-project.org/pipermail/rcpp-devel/attachments/20101202/1b4ce25b/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the Rcpp-devel mailing list