Yes, The Queen is listed as an 'author' on our R packages

A number of people have been surprised to learn that Her Majesty the Queen is listed as an author on a number of our packages. For example, in the SpaDES package:

Author:	Alex M Chubaty [aut, cre],
        Eliot J B McIntire [aut],
        Yong Luo [ctb],
        Steve Cumming [ctb],
        Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by
         the Minister of Natural Resources Canada [cph]

Note, however, that Her Majesty’s role not as a package author (aut) but as the copyright holder (cph).

It’s common practice in many companies to attribute copyright to your employer, and there are several R packages that list a company as copyright holder. For example, take a look at the packages produced by RStudio (e.g., dplyr, ggplot2).

As a Canadian public servant, the Crown holds copyright on our work, including R packages. (Next time you’re reading a scientific paper produced by a federal employee note the copyright – most publishers assign Crown Copyright in these cases instead of the publisher itself maintaining copyright. E.g., Elsevier.)

So while it may be a little surprising to see The Queen listed (as copyright holder) in the authors list for several R packages, assigning copyright to one’s employer is common in general, and expected for public servants in Canada (and likely other Commonwealth countries).

Alex M. Chubaty
Ecologist and simulation modeller


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