Licensing R

Licensing for a package which might be distributed is an important but potentially complex subject.


This book is by no mean a legal book and should not be used as such.

This book aims at helping you decipher the complexity of open source licenses, but if you have legal concerns and questions about open source licenses, please refer to a professional lawyer. Legal implications about licenses might differ from one company to another, or from one country to another?

This book focuses on licensing R and R-related works. Hence a focus is made on GPL-based licenses (which are the licenses under which R is released).

If you think there is a mistake somewhere, or if you want to contribute, please open an issue on the GitHub repository.

What is this book about

This book aims at two things:

  • Documenting the current state of licensing in the R world, by exploring the CRAN and BioConductor databases.

  • Helping developers make strategic choices about the license they apply to their R packages, by summarizing and explaining licenses and technical terms specific to open source licensing.


Special Thanks

  • This book is sponsored by an RConsortium ISC grant. Many thanks to them for supporting the project.

  • A special thank to Miles McBain, who inspired this project.


This book is released under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

You are free to:

  • Share this book
  • Adapt parts of the book

Provided that:

  • You give attribution
  • You don’t use this material for commercial purposes
  • You share any modification under the same license