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

Jakob Persson jakob at jakob-persson.com
Mon Sep 10 18:26:37 UTC 2007

Larry Garfield wrote:
> How exactly is a Drupal module not a plugin?  (Not a troll, a genuine question.)  I don't know of a legal definition of plugin, but from a technical standpoint they fit my understanding of what a plugin is, despite the name.  In the generic sense "module" would mean "somewhat discrete component of a system", while "plugin" would mean "swappable and optional component of a system".  (Again, not legal definitions.)
> --Larry Garfield
Refering to the references I mentioned in my previous email the 
conclusion I draw is that a Drupal module that utlizes hooks cannot be 
considered a plugin since Drupal does not provide a defined interface. 
By defined interface I mean a discrete set of public routines that can 
be called by an application the same way Drupal uses GD to manipulate 
bitmap data. A Drupal module uses and can use not only hooks but a wide 
range of internal functions to Drupal (as well as of other modules) 
since it has not access to a limited scope but to all the internals of 
Drupal. The question here is not what a module does but what it is 
allowed to do. Since Drupal fails to provide a defined interface a 
Drupal module cannot be considered a plugin. Which may also be of 
relevance is that that a module is perceptually and behaviorally (from 
the user's POV) a part of Drupal.

Therefore a module *is* derivative work.

The same argument applies to a module that interfaces with third party 
non-GPL-compatible software in the same fashion (a so called bridge).

Now this is old news. Jeff started this discussion quoting the FSF's 
experts reaching the same conclusion as I have. What we need to focus on 
is the issues that were raised - that is how do we allow Drupal modules 
to interface with software available under non-GPL-compatible licenses 
without violating the GPL.

So far many good ideas have been posted and there are others with much 
more knowledge than I have who I know for certain can provide a viable 
strategy to bring every contributor's code safely back into the GPL fold.
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