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

Angela Byron drupal-devel at webchick.net
Fri Sep 7 19:38:51 UTC 2007

On 7-Sep-07, at 3:23 PM, Dries Buytaert wrote:

> On 30 Aug 2007, at 09:08, Jeff Eaton wrote:
>> For quite some time, it has been commonly understood in the Drupal  
>> community that non-GPL software (like a third-party PHP message  
>> board system) can be integrated into Drupal legally by using an  
>> intermediary 'bridge' module. After some in-depth emails with the  
>> Free Software foundation's license gurus, it's become clear that  
>> this is NOT the case.
> Because some people e-mailed me in private about this; it's going  
> to take me a couple more days to respond to this thread.  I'm also  
> going to consult some other Open Source projects about this.  In  
> the mean time, keep on discussing as all input is valuable before  
> we refine our stance. :)

Ok, I was keeping quiet in this thread, but since you seem to want  

IMO, the only thing we can do is exactly what Joomla! did:

- Do not fork the GPL by creating our own interpretation of it  
(adding exceptions, etc.). Adding exceptions anyway is a physically  
impossibility; you'll never find all of the copyright holders of  
Drupal to sign off on it, and many of us would oppose such an action.

- Remove any code from our repositories that combine with non-GPLed  
code. This would be things like SMF, vBulletin, CiviCRM integration  
bridges. If those companies want to put themselves in potential legal  
jeopardy by providing bridges for our CMS, then they can host it on  
their own infrastructure, not ours, or they can dual-license their  
software so that it's GPL-compatible.

I think a lot of the discussion in this thread is just out-right  
denial. I'm quite sure that the folks at Open Source Matters looked  
into this issue extensively before Joomla! made their decision to  
quit distributing their SMF bridge, especially since the vast  
majority of their users are non-programmers who would never in a  
million years be able to create one by themselves, and since Joomla!  
does not have a core forum system of their own.

On a personal note, I fully support the viral nature of GPL, and see  
it as a critical feature, not a bug. The GPL is part of the primary  
reasons I spend my time working on applications like Drupal; it  
preserves the freedoms I was given for all future users of my code.


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