[thelist] Open source licensing and web development

William Anderson neuro at well.com
Wed Oct 27 13:58:35 CDT 2004

Kasimir K wrote:
> Hello,
> Recently I have had to think a lot of how I license the sites I make for 
> my clients. This has led me to think the possibility to use an open 
> source license, e.g. GPL.
> Do you have any experiences on this? Anything special to take into 
> consideration? Is GPL good, or should I consider other options?

Depends on what you're outputting for the client.  PHP is usually 
intrinsically bound to the content if you're using code in-line with 
content, so it may be more appropriate to GPL short passages of code and 
re-use them within the main bulk of the page.

Realistically I'd say the GPL is a poor licence to consider when doing work 
for a client and handing it over at the end.  If you have common code you 
re-use to hell and back, sure, GPL that, but definitely not anything bespoke 
for a client unless they specifically *want* it GPLed.

> How about the design? What should I do with the graphics I create? Or 
> CSS files?

Design?  Aren't you doing that for the client?  How can you licence a design 
under the GPL?

Graphics?  They will undoubtedly be handed over to the client as part of any 
standard web design/programming deal.  Licensing them under the GPL (i.e. 
source files such as Gimp or Photoshop data) would be a slap in the face to 
a client who had just shelled out a fee for you to give it away to others.

CSS files, grey area I suppose, but realistically they form a part of the 
content handed over to the client.

> What if I used GPLed parts like bulletin boards on a site - would that 
> force me to GPL the entire site?

If you GPLed the *code* behind the bulletin board, that's doable but again 
may be a conflict of interest for a client who thought you were working for 
them, not the bulletin-board-administrator-community-at-large.

_ __/|  William Anderson      | Brodie: The Force is strong with this one
\`O_o'  neuro at well dot com |    Jay: Dude, don't encourage him
=(_ _)= http://neuro.me.uk/   |  -- Mallrats, (1995)
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