I am developing an R package and distribute it under the GPL-2 license by submitting it to CRAN. According to CRAN's Writing R extensions, i am the author and maintainer of the source code.

The R package implements an algorithm which is published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association. I am not the author of the paper and have no affiliation with the authors or the publisher Taylor & Francis group.

Who is the copyright holder i should add in the DESCRIPTION file of the R package?

Does the term 'copyright holder' refer to the person who invented the algorithm and/or the person who wrote the R source code?

2 Answers 2


To quote from Wikipedia:

Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.

So the copyright in what you've written covers the creative aspect of what you've written, but not the idea(s) therein expressed. If the code is entirely your own work, then as far as copyright is concerned, you are the sole rightsholder therein.


Just as an addition to MadHatter's good answer, you should cite the original paper where the algorithm was published in the help files for the commands or the package using it, although this is not a copyright issue. The help files are somehow academic publications and intellectual honesty rules for academic publications apply, and hence the need to cite. If you publish your packages in an academic paper, then the need to cite is even more evident.

You can see examples of citations on help files of most functions and datasets in R, even on these from base functions.

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