[development] Modules that integrate non-GPL PHP apps violate the GPL.

Laura Scott laura at pingv.com
Fri Aug 31 21:31:39 UTC 2007

On Aug 31, 2007, at 2:56 PM, David Strauss wrote:

> Jeff Eaton wrote:
>> This is very true. It's also important to keep in mind that the  
>> FSF gets
>> annoyed when people distribute code that "Is GPL Compliant, Wink Wink
>> Nudge Nudge" but doesn't actually do anything until you put it in the
>> presence of non-GPL code.

The no-distribution loophole seems to contradict what was quoted  
earlier, but if true that's very reassuring. Thanks. The not- 
permitted- even-if-not-distributed thing was what sounded so alarming.

It's a darned shame though that a GPL module that enhances a free- 
standing GPL system (e.g., a module that bridges Drupal with an  
outside system) is lumped together with a "GPL" widget that is wholly  
dependent upon a proprietary system. The former is what I would  
consider a powerful enhancement of another existing GPL system, while  
the latter is clearly a licensing gimmick to get away with something.  
And yet legally they should be considered the same? Ouch!

Hypothetical: Could one argue that the GPL bridging module that  
bridges, say, Drupal and ASP.NET does not depend upon the proprietary  
system in order to be there and available for Drupal? I mean, if I  
can, for example, see the module active and available in the Drupal  
admin area, even if the ASP site is not connected, would not that  
module be considered as not requiring a proprietary system to run?

> To avoid this sort of GPL Hell, we have very specific terms on  
> which we
> work with clients:
> (1) The client owns the work we do specifically for them.
> (2) The client licenses .module files and their dependencies back  
> to us
> under the GPL, version 2, and all future versions as published by  
> the FSF.
> The terms of (2) mean their internal staff can contribute to the
> project, but the final working modules are licensed back to us in a
> GPL-clean way that allows us to return the work to the community.

That's a very interesting contractual approach. Thanks for sharing that!


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