I have recently adjusted a function from an existing package in R, which is licensed under GPL (>=2). If I now put the adjusted function in a package, so that other people can use it, do I have to put GPL (>=2) in the license field?

I have read the document on http://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.html and if I understand it correctly, you can adjust software that was licensed under GPL and the GPL license directly transfers from the original software to the software that you adjusted.

Is this really all I have to do? I would think that you would have to contact someone in order to get your software licensed.

  • The simple answer: yes, that's all you have to do.
    – ArtOfCode
    May 31, 2016 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


As ArtOfCode posted in a comment: yes, that's all you have to do.

You own the copyright to your contributions, and this is always automatic. You wrote it, and it's yours. You can - if the code is all yours - license it however you choose. This isn't like applying for a license from a government entity: as the code is yours, you are the one issuing the license to whoever comes across your code.

However, you don't own the copyright to the portion of code you used that was written by someone else. You've been given a license to do certain things with it. The GPL allows you to use the code for whatever you like, to make changes, etc. - it gives a lot of freedom. But one key restriction it does place is that you can't remove those freedoms from other downstream users.

Therefore, if your code is based on this existing code in any way, you have to also license it under the GPL to ensure that these freedoms remain.

The GNU has a page explaining how to apply the GPL licenses to your project. Essentially you just need to include a copyright notice, and the license text. Don't forget to include the copyright notice of the person who wrote the code you built upon as well.

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