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

Chris Johnson cxjohnson at gmail.com
Tue Sep 11 14:10:25 UTC 2007

On 9/8/07, Thomas Barregren <thomas at webbredaktoren.se> wrote:
> Chris Johnson skrev:
> > On 9/7/07, Thomas Barregren <thomas at webbredaktoren.se> wrote:
> >
> >> But if your program and the other program are
> >> linked, even if it is done only at runtime, and make function calls to
> >> each other and share data structures, your module is a derivative work
> >> of the other program as well.
> >>
> >
> > If this is true and legally correct (and I understand it), then we are
> > lucky the FSF doesn't have the money to sue thousands of cases in
> > court.  Because every time a GPL program is compiled and run on a
> > non-GPL operating system, it's going to be breaking this "rule."  No
> > GPL software could be run on Mac OS or Windows, if it called the OS or
> > any GUI API.
> You comment only proves that you in fact have not read the license.
> Please do that before you comment.
> Hint: § 3 of GPL v2.

No, actually I was well aware of the exception clause.  I've read GPL
v2 dozens of times, and the exception itself was mentioned earlier in
this very thread.  The point is, what sorts of uses constitute valid
exceptions and which do not.  Just what is a "major component?"  What
is an "operating system?"  You might be surprised just how various
courts in various countries might define those terms.

For instance, can a Mac OS X dashboard widget be GPL?  They depend on
more than just OS X -- they depend on an application program, which
many would not consider to be a "major component" of the operating

That is, once again, what is a derivative work?  Paragraphs 2 and 3
are inadequate to define it.  A dozen different courts could interpret
it differently.  Until there is well-established case law, we just
don't know.

So instead the question becomes, at what point does it stop making
sense to split hairs?  Or, how much legal protection can we reasonably
afford to get?  It might be more than adequate to simply require
contrib authors to "sign" something that says they are aware of the
GPL restrictions and that they hold Drupal/Dries harmless.  Even
though such clauses often don't hold up by themselves, it might be
enough evidence to demonstrate that Drupal was making best efforts to
comply at all times with the law, and thus keep us out of serious

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