[thelist] Open source licensing and web development

William Anderson neuro at well.com
Wed Oct 27 14:08:57 CDT 2004

Chris Johnston wrote:
> [snip]
> 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
> community.

*NO*!  If you download phpBB, deploy it to a server and then start modifying 
it, you are completely free to do so.  You can ultimately reuse that copy 
over and over on different servers.  phpBB is probably a bad example, as 
it's really only distributed as source due to the compile-on-the-hoof nature 
of PHP.

A better example would be say a C++-based CGI to ... hmmm, what should it 
do?  OK, let's say it takes an image from a parameter and uses libgd to 
write some text on top, then spit it on STDOUT to the browser.

If I were to take that hypothetically GPLed code, compile it and deploy it 
into use, that's fine.

If I were to then modify it, recompile it and deploy it again, that's also 

If I were to modify it, recompile it and then *redistribute the binary to 
others*, that's *not fine*.  *Unless* you provide the source code to your 
modified version, also licenced under the GPL.

If you were to withhold the source to your redistributed and modified 
version, that would be a breach of the GPL.

If you were to relicence your code under say the BSD or MPL licences and 
redistribute, *that* would be a breach of the GPL (unless you owned the 
original unmodified code in the first place, in which case you can do as you 

_ __/|  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)
    U  - Thhbt! GPG 0xFA5F1100 |

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