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

Angela Byron drupal-devel at webchick.net
Sat Sep 8 15:10:01 UTC 2007

On 8-Sep-07, at 5:51 AM, Thomas Barregren wrote:

> Angela Byron skrev:
>> 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.).
> We should definitely *not* fork GPL. That would be committing hara- 
> kiri.
> But adding a "FOSS Exception" or "Linked Under Controlled Interface  
> Exception" is *not* forking. On the contrary! It is a proper way to  
> solve situations like the one we are discussing. The technique is  
> proposed and fully described with template and everything on FSF/ 
> GNU's web site:
>    * http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0- 
> faq.html#GPLIncompatibleLibs
>    * http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0- 
> faq.html#LinkingOverControlledInterface
> In fact, it *might* be necessary to add a FOSS Exception for the  
> PHP-license. Why? The PHP-license is not compatible with the GPL.  
> That itself doesn't prevent PHP-programs to be distributed under  
> GPL. But since Drupal *make use* of GD and other libraries  
> distributed under the PHP-license, it is possible to argue that  
> Drupal in part is a derivative of GD and the other libraries. If  
> this cannot be deemed to fall under the platform exception in GPL,  
> it is not possible to distribute Drupal under GPL without adding a  
> notice saying that it is okay. Again, adding a such notice is not  
> forking GPL.

Fair enough. It still feels a bit "dirty" to me, though -- the fact  
that GPL doesn't have these exceptions written into "out of the box"  
it is definitely "by design," not an oversight.

>> 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.
> I am not completely convinced that it is a "physically  
> impossibility". After all, it is a limited number of people who  
> have committed code to the core. I suppose most of them are still  
> members of Drupal.org, and hence possible to get in contact with.  
> Why not try? Likely, a vast majority of all core contributors will  
> accept a "FOSS Exception" and possible also a "Linked Under  
> Controlled Interface Exception" for a "Module Programming  
> Interface" (e.g. hooks and some utility functions).

Interesting. So the act of committing code transfers authorship? My  
offering up code and saying, "Please commit this to core" is  
synonymous with "I hereby abandon all rights I have as the author of  
this code, and trust that the core committers will not someday do  
something silly with it?"

That's something I didn't know before. It was my understanding that  
copyright was retained by each individual who has contributed code to  
the project, regardless of who actually pulled the "commit" trigger.

> BTW, something similar has been done before, and in much larger  
> scale, namely BSD.

True. I don't argue that it _can't_ be done. I do argue that it might  
take much more time/resources than we want to spend on it. ;)  
Especially when we have a workaround (just boot the code from contrib  
that attempts to create a derivative work).

However, your point about Drupal making use of GD and such is a good  
one that bears further investigation.

Thanks a lot for your helpful contributions, Thomas. I've learned  
quite a bit from your interactions in this thread.


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