Open Source Does Matter ...

Category: Team News
Created on Thursday, 14 June 2007 17:20

Joomla! logo

Joomla! is moving to ensure the future of the project by committing to compliance with the GNU/GPL license.  This decision reflects a lengthy introspection combined with legal considerations to properly secure the project in the spirit of Open Source.  For us, for everyone, Open Source does matter. It's a long, slow road.  We're not going to make any sudden moves because we know that a lot of people are relying on us to maintain some stability and meet expectations.  We are very much aware that a lot of people make their living around Joomla!, and we are sensitive to producing sudden disruptions in livelihoods. Joomla! is a unique project with unique needs and unique GPL issues. Solutions won't just come off the shelf.  There are solutions and compromises on these issues that we are still exploring, and we want to keep hearing from the community so we can get it right. We will provide facts as soon as we have them.  If we seem too silent, it's because we don't want to speak until we can do so clearly and confidently.  And you'll have plenty of notice before any large changes get made. Here's the plan: first, we clean our own house and bring the Joomla! sites into compliance.  Next, we ask people in the community to voluntarily comply with the license.  At the same time, we try to help people understand what it takes to comply and how they can do it easily.  We believe we're going to get a lot of compliance that way.

So far, that's the entire plan.  No lawsuits, no pogroms, no martyrs. More to the point, no shouting, no demonisation, and no drawing lines between "us" and "them".  It's a big community with many kinds of developers, and we want solutions that will work for everybody.

Sticking with the GPL

We have decided to stay with the license that made Joomla! possible. Unanimously supported by the core team and supported by the Open Source Matters board, this confirms that both Joomla! 1.0 and Joomla! 1.5 are released under the (pure) GPL.

We've also decided that we do not have the authority to publish Joomla! under a version of the GPL that gives exceptions for proprietary extensions.  It's difficult to relicense a GPL'd project, and there is no indication that OSM currently has that ability.  Our current understanding is that extensions that aren't released under the GPL or compatible licenses are non-compliant, and that view is based on the guidance of both the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center.

There is a bit of complication here in that if extensions are separate works under copyright law, they are beyond the reach of the GPL, and are thus compliant even if they are not GPL-compatible.  The current architecture makes it extremely difficult to write nontrivial extensions that are separate works.  We are currently researching our options in this area.

By sticking with the GPL, we hope to achieve several objectives:

  • increase GPL compliance in our community
  • bring the project up to a representative standard shared by other like-minded open source projects
  • follow through on our commitment that the project should lead by example and engender open source philosophy
  • move to educate on ways for commercial Joomla! based projects to be both profitable and compliant

We Need Your Help

We've worked through considerable growing pains already and the next steps will, no doubt, not be without challenges.  Paramount in our considerations has been the users of this community and we understand sometimes taking tough decisions treads on a few toes.  We are being entirely earnest in asking you to help in the process by doing what you can to support the foundations of the GPL and the protections it affords.  We are also more than prepared to facilitate workshops to assist people through the process of achieving compliance.

The size and popularity of Joomla! extends well beyond our site; it provides a powerful tool for communities, government and non-government agencies, businesses and individuals. We have chosen to take a more difficult path by adhering to the GPL without ambiguity. If you're asked why Joomla! is taking these steps, the answer is simple.  We were growing up, we made some mistakes and we're moving to correct those mistakes for the future of the project.  We want to be responsible neighbours in both the GPL community and the Joomla! community.

The Joomla! Core Team and Open Source Matters

Brad Baker
Shayne Bartlett
Levis Bisson
Michelle Bisson
Chris Davenport
Wilco Jansen
Johan Janssens
Alex Kempkens
Mateusz Krzeszowiec
Louis Landry
Andy Miller
Sam Moffatt
Peter Russell
Rob Schley
Antonie de Wilde
James Vasile
Christopher Justice
Elin Waring
Ryan Ozimek

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What license does Joomla! use?

The GNU General Public License. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html
Within the context of this FAQ, "GNU GPL" and "GPL" refer to the GNU General Public License.

What is the difference between the GPL and the LGPL?

The GNU GPL is intended to be used for applications whereas the GNU LGPL is intended to be used for application libraries.  The Joomla! Content Management System is an entire application that utilizes a multitude of libraries, both GPL and LGPL, and thus is licensed under the GPL license.

Where can I read more about the license?

The GNU General Public License: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html
The GNU GPL Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html
The philosophy behind the GNU: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/

What is the definition of Open Source/Free Software?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software

What is meant by "voluntary compliance?"

We want all parties to come into compliance with our license, as it strengthens our ability to defend and protect Joomla!  We do not have the will nor the means to go after everyone who violates our license nor do we intend to.  We are asking the community to voluntarily comply with the GPL.

What is the difference between "commercial" and "proprietary"?

Commercial software means that there is some sort of commercial activity surrounding that software.  It could be a business that develops it and charges money for distribution, support, documentation, customization, etc.  Commercial software is not necessarily proprietary software and proprietary software is not necessarily commercial software.  Proprietary software means that you do not have the right to copy, modify, and redistribute that software. 

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprietary_software

Does the license allow someone to sell a copy of Joomla!?

Yes.  The Preamble of the GNU GPL states "when we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things." 

Also see: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney

Can I remove the Joomla! Copyright notice in the footer region (and other related questions)?

Yes, you can remove the Joomla! copyright notices from any part of the output that the Joomla! application generates.  You may not remove the copyright notice from the source code itself.

Can I remove the Joomla! Copyright notice in the Meta information of a Joomla! website?

Yes, you can remove the copyright notices from any part of the output that the Joomla! application generates.  You may not remove the copyright notice from the source code itself.

What should I do if I find a possible violation of the GPL?

You should report the possible violation to the appropriate copyright holders.  If you believe someone is violating the GPL license of the people who develop the Joomla! project please report the violation by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

------------ Joomla! Extensions ------------

Does the license allow someone to sell an extension?

Yes.  The Preamble of the GNU GPL states "when we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things."

Also see: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney

Does the license allow someone to encrypt an extension?

Yes, technically, but the distributor must provide access to the complete and unencrypted source code by either including it in the package or by making it available for download.  The distributor must provide access "for a charge no more than [their] cost of physically performing source distribution."  See [1].

Can I release an extension under a non-GPL license?

It is our opinion that most extensions are derivative works of Joomla! and must be licensed under the GNU GPL.  It is possible that an extension could work within Joomla! and not be considered a derivative work according to copyright law but this would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  If you believe your extension is not a derivative work we strongly recommend that you seek professional legal advice.

How does the treatment of templates differ from the treatment of components, modules, and plugins?

In our opinion, templates are composite packages that consist of both code elements and non-code elements.  We believe that the code elements of a template must be licensed under the GNU GPL because they are derivative works.  However, the non-code elements are just data acted upon by the software and may be licensed in any way the author sees fit.  The non-code elements include elements like Images, Movies, Animations, CSS and formatting markup.

Please see: "Does JavaScript included in templates and extensions need to be licensed under the GPL?" and "Does the CSS in my template need to be licensed under the GPL?"

What is the difference between a bridge to another package and an extension?

A bridge links Joomla! to an external application so that they can exchange data and cooperate. On the Joomla! side of the bridge, the bridge is treated just like a component, module, or plugin; it must comply with the GPL unless it is a separate work (and some bridges might indeed be separate works).

If the external application is separate enough from Joomla! that it is a separate work under copyright law, it may be licensed under whatever license the holder of its copyright sees fit.

Does the CSS in my template need to be licensed under the GPL?

Not unless it is based on work that is licensed under the GNU GPL.  See [1].

Does JavaScript included in templates and extensions need to be licensed under the GPL?

Not unless it is based on work that is licensed under the GNU GPL. See [1].

If I include a module in a template, does it need to be under the GPL license?

Generally, yes. See "Can I release an extension under a non-GPL license?"

I purchased a copy of an extension that violates the Joomla! license.  Can I now distribute it under the GPL?

No.  You should report the violation to the appropriate copyright holders. 

Can I offer a hosted service with my custom, proprietary extensions?

Yes.  The GNU GPL does not apply until you attempt to distribute your custom extensions to an outside party.  If you decide to distribute your extensions, they will need to be licensed under the GNU GPL.