I have produced a couple of wordclouds and charts using packages in R. Is it ok to use Wordcloud and ggplot2 packages (they are licenced under GPL and LGPL) commercially for producing documents and charts?


According to the R-Project:

R is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2. If you have any questions regarding the legality of using R in any particular situation you should bring it up with your legal counsel. We are in no position to offer legal advice.

It is the opinion of the R Core Team that one can use R for commercial purposes (e.g., in business or in consulting). The GPL, like all Open Source licenses, permits all and any use of the package. It only restricts distribution of R or of other programs containing code from R. This is made clear in clause 6 (“No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor”) of the Open Source Definition:

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

It is also explicitly stated in clause 0 of the GPL, which says in part

Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program.

Most add-on packages, including all recommended ones, also explicitly allow commercial use in this way. A few packages are restricted to “non-commercial use”; you should contact the author to clarify whether these may be used or seek the advice of your legal counsel.

None of the discussion in this section constitutes legal advice. The R Core Team does not provide legal advice under any circumstances.

It sounds like for certain packages, you should contact the author to obtain permission.

  • The question is actually about "R packages", i.e. not "R Core". The quote is relevant in that it establishes that multiple "R packages" exist, have different authors, and different licenses. But we knew already from the question that the 2 relevant packages are GPL and LGPL licensed. So these two do not fall under "certain packages [for which] you should contact the author to obtain permission [to use them]:. – MSalters Mar 10 '17 at 17:39

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