[thelist] PHP Modules and Licensing

Judah McAuley judah at wiredotter.com
Thu Jan 12 12:07:52 CST 2006

The LGPL license does allow for commercial use. See: 

In particular, this section of the preamble clarifies:
"Most GNU software, including some libraries, is covered by the ordinary 
GNU General Public License. This license, the GNU Lesser General Public 
License, applies to certain designated libraries, and is quite different 
from the ordinary General Public License. We use this license for 
certain libraries in order to permit linking those libraries into 
non-free programs."

If you were to modify the adodblite library, you'd need to provide the 
modified library for free...but you could still charge for your 
application. The LGPL is pretty specific about separating out the 
"library" from the "application". You may not charge for the library, 
but you can use the library in a commercial application.

You can can also charge money for a GPL'd application, but you would 
have to make the source code freely available as well. See: 

Things also become different if you are providing the application on an 
service model (you host it and people pay to use it) or if you are 
distributing the application, ie selling the code, for the client to 
install themselves. If you are doing the former, you have far fewer 
restrictions, if the latter, you'll need to do more investigation. For 
instance, you can use MySql in your application on your site and require 
people to pay to use it. However, if you make it an installable sort of 
app and send people the source and the MySql installer, then you have to 
pay for a commercial license for MySql.

If the whole thing worries you a lot, then talk to a lawyer. The peace 
of mind will be worth it.

Hershel Robinson wrote:
> I am beginning to build now a LAMP web app. It is a database-driven 
> user-authenticated app in the area of finance/business. I had chosen the 
> following tools:
> DB Abstraction Layer:
> I had wanted to use:
> http://adodblite.sourceforge.net/
> but now that I read the license it appears that the GNU Lesser GPL 
> license does not allow this package to be distributed as part of a 
> commercial product. I like the approach of this tool in certain issues 
> regarding return set traversion. Looks like I will need to rethink this 
> choice, however, as the software I am building is intended to be 
> commercial, i.e. for sale.
> There are lots of options out there for DB abstracting--I want one that 
> is simple, lightweight, and easy to use.
> Templating:
> I had also planned to use:
> http://www.phpsavant.com/
> but I see that it, too, uses LGPL and thus will not be viable. For PHP 
> templating, there are even more options than for DB abstraction--I again 
>   am a fan of simple, lightweight, and easy to use--I like to start with 
> good, simple tools, and then expand them myself if necessary. I have 
> used Smarty and, while it works, I find it slow and it itself comes with 
> its own little scripting language, which seems unnecessary--I prefer the 
> approach of Savant that the templating language is PHP itself.
> User Authentication:
> I was looking at AdminPro class from phpclasses.org:
> http://www.phpclasses.org/browse/package/1830.html
> but it's also GPL and thus not feasible.
> I have never before had much reason to read licenses closely, as I 
> haven't been in this decision-making position before. Time to learn now...
> Any ideas on the above ramblings are welcome.
> Thanks,
> Hershel

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