[thelist] Open source licensing and web development

Chris Johnston fuzzylizard at gmail.com
Tue Oct 26 19:08:16 CDT 2004

On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 01:44:16 +0200, Kasimir K <evolt at kasimir-k.fi> wrote:
> Travis wrote on 2004-10-26 23:04:
> >>What if I used GPLed parts like bulletin boards on a site - would that
> >>force me to GPL the entire site?
> >
> > Certainly what you do not have to do is make available other scripts from
> > your website if they are not derived from GPLd code. As explained in the
> > legal doc...
> >
> > "These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable
> > sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be
> > reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then
> > this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you
> > distribute them as separate works."
> Yes, when you "distribute them as separate works". But if I make a site,
> and include a GPL cms there, they in now way are separate.
> > IOW you do not have to gpl all the independent scripts on your site simply
> > because you add some gpl software to your site.

As far as I understand things, if you simply use a GPL program and
make no modifications to the code of that program, then you are under
no obligations. If however, you modify that code, in anyway, then you
are obligated to release those modifications, and any dependencies, to
the public, under the GPL license. So if I download phpBB and modify
the code, I should release those modifications back into the

If a GPL program is part of a site that you are creating, and you have
not modified the code, but you intend to sell the entire application,
with the GPL program as part of the entire application, then you risk
violating the GPL. Therefore, the best thing to do in this case is to
sell your part of the application and have the end user download the
GPL program themselves.

Another question that you have eluded to is who own the code in the
first place. If I am commissioned to create a logo or a photograph by
a client, in Canada, unless it is expressely written in the contract
otherwise, it is the client who owns all rights to that work of art.
If I am commissioned to create a web application, does the client own
the code that I create for them or do I? Are they commissioning me for
code or for a user license?

All of these issues make this a very muddy topic to discuss. I believe
this later point was the main starting point to the thread that I
referenced earlier.

chris johnston


"For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals and
something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination, we
learned to talk."
Pink Floyd

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