Usage of locfit is questionable due to its non-free license
as you can see in the longish discussion on the "Intend to Package"
claim to package locfit for Debian the license of locfit is
problematic. I'm more and more stumbling upon use cases of locfit from
CRAN (recently in DESeq - thus the author Simon Anders is explicitly
CCed) but also in edgeR and lots of other frequently used BioConductor
The license for locfit on CRAN is
"GPL-2 | GPL-3 [expanded from: GPL (≥ 2)]"
but this is wrong. Most parts of the code in src/*.c are licensed under
the following terms:
The Locfit implementation has been designed largely from the point
of view of generality: to provide a set of functions that can be
used for as wide a range of local fitting problems as possible.
It is not intended to be the fastest or most efficient implementation
possible. In addition to generality, the code in many places makes
extensive trade-offs made between speed and numerical accuracy (some
of which can be controlled through optional arguments). Many of Locfit's
options will only be used in a small fraction of cases; for other cases,
they add to the cost of overhead (an obvious example is multi-dimensional
fitting: when used in 1-d, many loops reduce to for(i=0;i<1;i++)).
Additionally, the user interfaces (i.e. the R and S-Plus code) add
significantly to the computational overhead. For these reasons, the
Locfit code, as distributed, should not, and can not, be used to
derive meaningful benchmarks, either for the speed or accuracy of algorithms.
Anyone wishing to use Locfit in any kind of comparative benchmark
study must contact and obtain permission from the Author.
Copyright (c) 1996-2001 Lucent Technologies, Bell Laboratories.
SCB code is
Copyright (c) 1996-2001 Jiayang Sun.
Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software for any
purpose (with the exceptions noted in `About Algorithms' above)
without fee is hereby granted, and provided that this entire notice is
included in all copies of any software which is or includes a copy or
modification of this software and in all copies of the supporting
documentation for such software.
THIS SOFTWARE IS BEING PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED
WARRANTY. IN PARTICULAR, NEITHER THE AUTHOR NOR LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES
MAKE ANY REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY OF ANY KIND CONCERNING THE
MERCHANTABILITY OF THIS SOFTWARE OR ITS FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
Fedora came to the same conclusion when discussing the usage of locfit
in cufflinks that locfit is a show stopper for Free Software.
The locfit code on CRAN is not including a copy of the text above and
thus is violating the license. Moreover the clause "should not, and
can not, be used to derive meaningful benchmarks" makes the code non-free
since it adds a usage restriction.
The Debian Med team repeatedly tried to contact upstream authors of
locfit but failed. All seem to have vanished and my mal to Bell Labs
remained unanswered (seems free software is not important enough for
The conclusion is: Do not use locfit in Free Software. Specifically do
not use it by breaking the license conditions and leave out the
licensing text from upstream. Please also help to find upstream authors
to discuss more constructive licensing terms.
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