[development] The OSI Artist License compatibility with GPL

Thomas Barregren thomas at webbredaktoren.se
Mon Sep 10 22:05:49 UTC 2007

Jeff Beeman skrev:
> I guess I should clear things up by actually stating what I'd like to 
> include.  I wrote a module that is a simple wrapper for the Incutio 
> XML-RPC Library (http://scripts.incutio.com/xmlrpc/ 
> <http://scripts.incutio.com/xmlrpc/>), which is code.  It's odd to me 
> that it's licensed under the Artistic License, and in lieu of not 
> hearing back from the author(s), I've decided to release it in the 
> style of TinyMCE, telling users to go grab the library themselves.

What you are wondering can be formulated as two questions.

The first question is whether it is allowed to check non-GPL libraries 
into Drupal's CVS. As Greg Knaddison pointed out, the policy of 
Drupal.org is to discourage third party libraries in general, and 
non-GPL libraies in particular. See


Therefore, I think you are doing the right thing by telling people to go 
grab the library themselves.

The second question is whether it is allowed for a Drupal module to link 
to a library under The Artistic License. Because Drupal has GPL, your 
module has to be available for use under the GPL as well. See


Does that prevent your module to use a library under The Artistic 
License? If your module is a derived work of the library, you have 
problem. According to FSF/GNU, the Artistic License is not compatible 
with GPL according to FSF/GNU. See


But if your module is not a derived work of the library, you are all 
clear. So the second question boils down to whether your module is 
derived work of the Incutio XML-RPC Library or not.

Since the Incutio XML-RPC Library obviously is *designed* and *intended* 
to be used as a library, I would have said that your module is not a 
derivate work of the library *IF* - and that is the catch - if your 
module did something else than just being a "simple wrapper". But as a 
simple wrapper around the Incutio XML-RPC Library, your module must most 
likely be characterized as a derived work of the library. And as a 
consequence, it cannot be legally distributed. Sorry. :-(

The best you can do is to write to the copyright holder of the Incutio 
XML-RPC Library and ask if the library can be dual licensed under GPL to 
you. The Artistic License and GPL are very similar in intent, so that 
should not be a big issue. In fact, that is exactly how it is done for 
Perl, for which the Artistic License once were written.

Finally, there is of course a chance that my interpretation of the 
situation is completely wrong. I am after all not a lawyer, but only a 
layman. So everything I have said should be taken with a grain of salt.

Best regards,

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