What kind of licence for using R GUI self-employed need to choose?


#1

Hello to dear R community!

It is not entirely clear to me what various commercial licenses differs, or even whether I should acquire one or still be able to use R free of charge. I am asking for help because I have no experience.

I am a self employed freelancer analyst [sic!]. I would like to use R GUI or RStudio for analysis - obviously what is cheaper, because I do not need many advanced features. I want to use a lot of different modules and packages, I would like to do it completely legally. It means using R and selling the effects of work using R (I mean that I analyze using R, but I sell conclusions from analyzes, not printouts from R).

Which license should I choose (and if any?). The choice is only between these https://www.rstudio.com/pricing/ ?

I have not found a license for RGUI, I do not fully understand how it works properly. Do I just pay for the use of R, RGUI or RStudio, or do I have to buy access to each package separately?

Where to start?

Thank you in advance and greetings to the whole community. I am asking for your understanding - I am new here. :slight_smile:

P.S. I found some topics, like RStudio Desktop (free) eligible for commercial use? but they do not seem to help me, because I still do not understand what is legal here and what is not.


#2

First, IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but I've researched open source licenses for work. So don't quote me in court. And consult a lawyer if you hit any murky parts (see below).

Second, R and R Studio are different things from different groups with different authors. R GUI (I assume you mean Rgui.exe) is part of R. The same license applies. R Studio uses its own license. If you're using the non-enterprise version of R Studio, then the rest of this post applies to that (unless you let other people use it over a network).

You can read the licenses for R here: https://www.r-project.org/Licenses/. The open source version of R Studio uses the AGPL license: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.txt.

For open source licenses:

Individual packages have their own licenses, but one of CRAN's rules is that packages use an open source license. The Open Source Initiative gives a good definition of what an open source license is, as well as a list of the common ones.

For open source licenses, they only things they cover are the source code and built versions of the software (R, any R packages you use, and R Studio). This includes any modified versions of these files. But they only cover how you distribute those files, not how you use them.

If you don't distribute those files, you won't have to care about the license. Using R to collect, organize, and analyze data and share the results doesn't necessarily require you to do anything special or worry about the license.

Example where everything's great

Let's say you do an analysis with R and packages downloaded from CRAN, use knitr to create a PDF report with the results, and send the PDF to your client. None of that violates an open source license. Even if there are different kinds of licenses among the packages, as long as they're open source, you're good.

Example where you need to abide by licenses

Let's say you create an R package for your client. You send it to them and include an installer for R and the required packages to make sure they can use it. Now you need to abide by the licenses. Everything covered by a "copyleft" license (this is the usual case) must be covered by the same license if you distribute it.

So, in this case, if the clients ask you for the source code of R, you need to make sure they get it. And it has to be covered by the same license as your version (meaning the client is free to use, modify, and distribute it). If you haven't modified R's source code, you could just point them to the official website. CRAN packages should be the same way*.

The murky part

With that last example, what's required if the client asks for the source code of the package you wrote? What if you only sent your package and told them where to download R? This is where my confidence ends, and I'd advise contacting a copyright lawyer. Try to find one familiar with open source and copyleft licenses.


* As far as I know, but there are exceptions to every rule. It wouldn't hurt to check each package's license. You can do this in R:

packageDescription("tidyverse", fields = "License")
# [1] "GPL-3 | file LICENSE"

In this case, tidyverse is covered under the GPL-3 and other terms specified in the LICENSE file. The location of that file can also be found in R:

system.file("LICENSE", package = "tidyverse")
# [1] "C:/Users/redacted/Documents/R/win-library/3.5/tidyverse/LICENSE"

#3

Thank You @nwerth - that explains a lot to me.

I was hoping, however, that the people involved in the project will also be addressed here, that is, the creators who will be able to tell me that, for example, 100% nobody will claim to me - I do not know - compensation - for using R.

With Your " Example where everything's great " - this is exactly what I want to do. I understand that this does not violate the license rights and more or less I understood the same information about the licenses / copyleft / GPL3.

Despite the fact that both your (by the way - great!) translation and my understanding coincide - I am still not 100% sure whether the lawyer, court or other judicial authorities will interpret it in the same way.

Is it possible to identify any "community", "company" or other entity that "owns" R?

I'm sorry if my questions are naive.


#4

You are describing simply using open source software to do work. This is not unlike running Linux as an operating system to do work. This is not grey or ambiguous in any way. You should probably read up a bit on open source licenses. Here's an excerpt from an opensource.org faq:

Can Open Source software be used for commercial purposes?

Absolutely. All Open Source software can be used for commercial purpose; the Open Source Definition guarantees this. You can even sell Open Source software.

However, note that commercial is not the same as proprietary . If you receive software under an Open Source license, you can always use that software for commercial purposes, but that doesn't always mean you can place further restrictions on people who receive the software from you. In particular, copyleft-style Open Source licenses require that, in at least some cases, when you distribute the software, you must do so under the same license you received it under.

Keep in mind that you have not mentioned anything about altering and redistributing R or RStudio. You are only wanting to write analysis with these tools. This is analogous to using the gcc compiler to compile your own program. You can write commercial software with gcc and do anything you want with it. That's COMPLETELY different than altering gcc and redistributing gcc with your changes.

Analysis you write with R (or any other language) is NOT the same as altering the source of R and redistributing that.


#5

Dear @jdlong

I am sorry, maybe I have not expressed myself clearly. I am absolutely not interested about the distribution of R, its modifications or writing modules for it to the client. I am interested in whether the calculations obtained with the use of R require the purchase of a license?

Example 1: the client sends me information (database) about the sale from last month, and I, using various functions of the R software, generate a sales report, charts and sales estimation for future months.

Example 2: the client sends me information (database) from research on the impact of drugs on the duration of treatment, and I, using R, generate elements of the report comparing the results of treatment with individual medicines; the results of the calculations will be part of the text / oral report.

Do such activities that are compatible with "Example where everything's great" from Nathan need any comercial license or not?

Thank You


#6

Yes. 100% within the "everything is perfectly great" scenario.

Think about it for a minute. You are simply using open source software to do work. Just like running a Linux server. Or writing a web server using Python. So if it were not 100% OK to do commercial activities with Open Source software then 75% of the top 10k web sites would be in legal jeopardy because 75% of the top 10k websites are run on open source software.

Let me quote the FAQ above, yet again:

Can Open Source software be used for commercial purposes?

Absolutely. All Open Source software can be used for commercial purpose; the Open Source Definition guarantees this. You can even sell Open Source software.

Let's focus:

Absolutely. All Open Source software can be used for commercial purpose;

This is not ambiguous at all.