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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:46 pm 
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Mod note : thread split from : http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,163278.0.html and topic changed from Encryption of Joomla! extensions is a violation of the GPL

Jinx wrote:
11. Encryption of Joomla! extensions is a violation of the GPL


Can you clarify this Johan?  I was under the impression that extensions didn't have to be released with a GPL license.  There are many extensions on the extensions site that are not GPL, and so I would have assumed that they would be able to encrypt these extensions.

Ian


Last edited by Jinx on Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:57 pm 
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I just had a quick read through of the GPL and I think it hinges on point 4.

Quote:
4.  You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.


I don't see any issue with creating commercial extensions which are encrypted, so long as they do not themselves redistribute anything which is covered by a GPL license. Then again I'm no laywer ;) (although I cud pretend :P)

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:08 pm 
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ianmac wrote:
Can you clarify this Johan?  I was under the impression that extensions didn't have to be released with a GPL license.  There are many extensions on the extensions site that are not GPL, and so I would have assumed that they would be able to encrypt these extensions.


The FAQ's on http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html say :

1. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins

If the program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function calls to each other and share data structures, we believe they form a single program, which must be treated as an extension of both the main program and the plug-ins. This means the plug-ins must be released under the GPL or a GPL-compatible free software license, and that the terms of the GPL must be followed when those plug-ins are distributed.

2. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.htm ... ggregation

Combining two modules means connecting them together so that they form a single larger program. If either part is covered by the GPL, the whole combination must also be released under the GPL--if you can't, or won't, do that, you may not combine them.

This means that installing/adding a component/module/plugin to Joomla! is creating a combined work, if the third party developer doesn't want to violate the GPL he will need to release the module/component/plugin under the GPL or GPL-compatible license. It also means that a third party developer cannot encrypt his extension, without also making the code available when distributing the extension (hence the term open source license).

Note : Templates are considered a special case, see also : http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#TOCWMS

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Last edited by Jinx on Sun Jun 10, 2007 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:16 pm 
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So what impact does that have on the extensions listed on extensions.joomla.org that are not released under a GPL or GPL compatible license?  And why are these extensions listed there?

Ian


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:25 pm 
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ianmac wrote:
So what impact does that have on the extensions listed on extensions.joomla.org that are not released under a GPL or GPL compatible license?  And why are these extensions listed there?


That's a good question. Based on my current understanding I would say, for the moment not such much unless we (the copyright holders of the Joomla! codebase) decides to enforces the GPL license on them at which point they would need to either change their license or remove their extension for public distribution.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:41 pm 
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Hi

So what you are stating is that those components that use ioncube are breaking the GPL.  Now does a user break the GPL by installing a component that is encoded by ioncube?

If this is true then you'd better let ijoomla and SEFAdvanced people know :-)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:18 pm 
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jcracknell wrote:
So what you are stating is that those components that use ioncube are breaking the GPL.  Now does a user break the GPL by installing a component that is encoded by ioncube?


Not the user but the third party developer (the person who owns the copyrights of the code) violates the GPL by encrypting it, the act of installing an extension (module/component/plugin) is not a violation of the GPL. If the user whishes to distribute the combined work (Joomla! + extensions) he will not be able to this in accoordance with the terms of the GPL license of Joomla! as part of the code is encrypted and cannot be re-distributed. If such a situation happens the user should inform the Joomla! project about this violation as it's only the copyright holders of the Joomla! code base who can enforce the license upon third party developers.

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Last edited by Jinx on Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:20 pm 
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Jinx wrote:
ianmac wrote:
So what impact does that have on the extensions listed on extensions.joomla.org that are not released under a GPL or GPL compatible license?  And why are these extensions listed there?


That's a good question. Based on my current understanding I would say, for the moment not such much unless we (the copyright holders of the Joomla! codebase) decides to enforces the GPL license on them at which point they would need to either change their license or remove their extension for public distribution.


If this is the case, then IMO (and I recognize this is only my opinion - you can do what you will), we should use a different license.  Joomla! is dependent on third party extensions.  This is our philosophy, in some respects, and why more extensions aren't added into the core.

If things work the way they do now only because we aren't enforcing our rights (to enforce the GPL), then that leaves third party developers in a very difficult position.  Who would want to develop third party commercial extensions knowing that what they are doing is illegal and at any point in time they could be shut down?

Further, I think it would be difficult to enforce the GPL license in this manner if we are supporting commercial extensions by listing them in our extensions directory.

I prefer to interpret extensions as 'applications' which run under the Joomla! environment, in the same way that commercial applications run under Linux.

Ian


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:33 pm 
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ianmac wrote:
If this is the case, then IMO (and I recognize this is only my opinion - you can do what you will), we should use a different license.  Joomla! is dependent on third party extensions.  This is our philosophy, in some respects, and why more extensions aren't added into the core.


I don't think that is enough reason to validate a license change. However it's a very valid remark and question, one i would love to hear more community feedback on.

Quote:
If things work the way they do now only because we aren't enforcing our rights (to enforce the GPL), then that leaves third party developers in a very difficult position.  Who would want to develop third party commercial extensions knowing that what they are doing is illegal and at any point in time they could be shut down?


It seems alot of them do, looking at our extension site :)

Quote:
Further, I think it would be difficult to enforce the GPL license in this manner if we are supporting commercial extensions by listing them in our extensions directory.


Let's be carefull not to mix the term commercial extensions with extensions released under a none GPL compilant license. The GPL doesn't permit people to charge for GPL licensed code, what the GPL says requires is that you must have the freedom to distribute a copy to you if he wishes to.

Also see : http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.htm ... CostsMoney

Quote:
I prefer to interpret extensions as 'applications' which run under the Joomla! environment, in the same way that commercial applications run under Linux.


This is again a valid argument and one that is open for debate. As I quoted before, the GNU faqs say :

It depends on how the program invokes its plug-ins. If the program uses fork and exec to invoke plug-ins, then the plug-ins are separate programs, so the license for the main program makes no requirements for them.

If the program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function calls to each other and share data structures, we believe they form a single program, which must be treated as an extension of both the main program and the plug-ins. This means the plug-ins must be released under the GPL or a GPL-compatible free software license, and that the terms of the GPL must be followed when those plug-ins are distributed.

If the program dynamically links plug-ins, but the communication between them is limited to invoking the `main' function of the plug-in with some options and waiting for it to return, that is a borderline case.


The fact that the GPL was orginaly created to deal with compiled code and not with interpreted code like PHP makes this a very interesting discussion. I do believe that Joomla! extensions are not simply invoked, they share data structures and make functions calls to the Joomla! core API. I personaly don't consider them the same as Linux applications, but again that could be argued.

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Last edited by Jinx on Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:45 pm 
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I'm thinking we need a "Legal" forum 'round here. :)

EDIT: apparently the 'Foundation' forum where this thread is now moved serves for that...

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Last edited by mjaz on Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:49 pm 
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I'll move this thread to the foundation forum public forum.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:50 pm 
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Jinx wrote:
Quote:
If things work the way they do now only because we aren't enforcing our rights (to enforce the GPL), then that leaves third party developers in a very difficult position.  Who would want to develop third party commercial extensions knowing that what they are doing is illegal and at any point in time they could be shut down?


It seems alot of them do, looking at our extension site :)

Yes...  this is true...  but I wonder how many are aware that this is illegal?

Quote:
Quote:
Further, I think it would be difficult to enforce the GPL license in this manner if we are supporting commercial extensions by listing them in our extensions directory.


Let's be carefull not to mix the term commercial extensions with extensions released under a none GPL compilant license. The GPL doesn't permit people to charge for GPL licensed code, what the GPL says is requires is that GPL requires is that you must have the freedom to distribute a copy to you if he wishes to.

Also see : http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.htm ... CostsMoney

Understood, and I fully recognize that people are free to charge for GPL licensed code.  But I doubt that many commercial extension developers would be comfortable with people distributing their extensions to others.  There are a number of license options on the extensions site:
GNU/GPL
BSD
PHP License
Commercial License
Creative Commons
Donationware/Subscriptionware
Other open source/Free License

Commercial license indicates to me that I am not allowed to redistribute the extensions.

Quote:
Quote:
I prefer to interpret extensions as 'applications' which run under the Joomla! environment, in the same way that commercial applications run under Linux.


This is again a valid argument and one that is open for debate. As I quoted before, the GNU faqs say :

It depends on how the program invokes its plug-ins. If the program uses fork and exec to invoke plug-ins, then the plug-ins are separate programs, so the license for the main program makes no requirements for them.

If the program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function calls to each other and share data structures, we believe they form a single program, which must be treated as an extension of both the main program and the plug-ins. This means the plug-ins must be released under the GPL or a GPL-compatible free software license, and that the terms of the GPL must be followed when those plug-ins are distributed.

If the program dynamically links plug-ins, but the communication between them is limited to invoking the `main' function of the plug-in with some options and waiting for it to return, that is a borderline case.



Whatever decision is made, I think this has to be stated and communicated much more explicitly.  I've been a member of the forum community (and relatively active) for a year and a half now, and this is the first I have heard of this interpretation of the license.  Then again, if I'm the only one who hasn't recognized this, then please, tell me, people.  If, as I suspect, this is a relatively unknown situation to many, then we really have to improve communication on this and be explicit about it.

Johan, I'm really sorry to take time away from 1.5 dev for this, and if there is somebody else that could handle this that isn't busy with code right now, I would be happy to followup with them, but I do think this is important and has significant legal implications for many.

I would also suggest that this discussion be moved to a different thread, as it really doesn't belong here in this one.

Ian


Last edited by Jinx on Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:11 pm 
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ianmac wrote:
Yes...  this is true...  but I wonder how many are aware that this is illegal?


Illegal is a very strong word, it's a violation of the license which would be the correct legal term. I agree though that probably many don't realy understand the GPL license which Joomla! is released under.

Quote:
Whatever decision is made, I think this has to be stated and communicated much more explicitly.  I've been a member of the forum community (and relatively active) for a year and a half now, and this is the first I have heard of this interpretation of the license.  Then again, if I'm the only one who hasn't recognized this, then please, tell me, people.  If, as I suspect, this is a relatively unknown situation to many, then we really have to improve communication on this and be explicit about it.


So far not decisions are made and I would not like to see one being made before we have at least gathered more community feedback. I don't think you are the only one, that's also why I'm want to spend time to answer the questions that are being raised. I agree that communication on this issue needs to be improved and the foundation working group can play a major role in this.

Quote:
Johan, I'm really sorry to take time away from 1.5 dev for this, and if there is somebody else that could handle this that isn't busy with code right now, I would be happy to followup with them, but I do think this is important and has significant legal implications for many.


I'm happy to leave development to others and discuss this with you as it touches the very foundations of the project and it's community. It's not a black vs white debate and it's definilty a debate where we want to hear the community voice. 

Quote:
I would also suggest that this discussion be moved to a different thread, as it really doesn't belong here in this one.


Done.

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Last edited by Jinx on Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:35 pm 
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It is interesting the timing of this discussion, given Rob Schley's developer post on Why Open Source Matters.
Quote:
Each contributor can look at something someone else has done and not just the pretty paint job, they have access to the schematics, diagrams, and blueprints of how they did it. Then, if they want, they can improve on it to make something better.


It has long bothered me that encrypted solutions are in the JED and used within an open source application, like Joomla!. It's not that I don't understand the reasoning - people are trying to make a living and they are protecting their assets -- their code -- and others have abused this and we haven't really figured out how to deal with these problems.  But, we need to be very, very careful here discussing license changes or Joomla! will wind up an Internet device, without any value to anyone, absent encrypted software.

++++

If we move away from the GPL, what do you honestly think will happen to the number of open source developers who entrust the community with their work, making it possible for others to learn and adapt the code, improving on it to make things better for all of us? What will be their motivation to continue? Why should they be the ones to make their code vulnerable when others are protecting their assets?

When you think about it, it is an all or nothing deal. All open source, or eventually, no open source.

The only real protection that an open source developer has is a community who rewards the act of entrusting the community with the code by strictly enforcing the GPL against encrypted solutions and financially supporting the open source solutions. We, as a community, have not beat those drums like we need to! We have not supported our third party developers. They have watched the encrypted code come in. They have watched their products be pirated. And, they had no where else to turn but to encrypt their code.

It's all or nothing. If we move away from the GPL, we will be saying open source doesn't matter and it will be a race to encrypt. The only open source code that will remain will be from newbie developers cutting their teeth. Talented open source developers will go to authentic open source projects who support them and Joomla! will be a useless Internet device, void of encrypted extensions.

++++

What problem are we trying to solve? Let's back up and figure that out.

I have been thinking for awhile that we must figure out revenue issues for the Joomla! project. We need to pay the salaries of our core Joomla! developers and anyone else who is needed to work on this effort full-time. And, we need to start talking about how third party extension providers can be compensated for their work, too.

There are LOTS of open source projects with excellent business models and people are indeed making money. Take Jaspersoft (they use Joomla!, BTW). Anyone can use JasperReports freely as in beer and liberty. Free support is available using the community forums. And, you can get commercial support, too, for a charge. A person on the phone. Someone who will come to your place of business.

Take a look at Ubuntu. They SEND CDs in the mail at their cost. I realize they have one of the world's richest men who seeded the effort,  but they also built a self-sufficient operations in Canonical that sustains this group of people and their work, which is fed upstream back to Debian, and other projects they use.

We need to keep the GPL beneath Joomla! if open source matters and we need to get the encryption out. Then, everyone is back on the same playing field - even - and no one is at a disadvantage for being an open source developer.

One last consideration, and this is the harsh comment, please take it as reality - not an attack. Changing the license would be considered by many, myself included, a serious offense and a breach of trust to the community for the volunteer efforts that have been provided since the fork. Many of us participated because we believe the saying "open source matters" and wanted to support the good that open source can provide the world.

++++

Thank you for accepting input on this.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:56 pm 
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AmyStephen wrote:
It is interesting the timing of this discussion, given Rob Schley's developer post on Why Open Source Matters.
Quote:
Each contributor can look at something someone else has done and not just the pretty paint job, they have access to the schematics, diagrams, and blueprints of how they did it. Then, if they want, they can improve on it to make something better.


It has long bothered me that encrypted solutions are in the JED and used within an open source application, like Joomla!. It's not that I don't understand the reasoning - people are trying to make a living and they are protecting their assets -- their code -- and others have abused this and we haven't really figured out how to deal with these problems.  But, we need to be very, very careful here discussing license changes or Joomla! will wind up an Internet device, without any value to anyone, absent encrypted software.

++++

If we move away from the GPL, what do you honestly think will happen to the number of open source developers who entrust the community with their work, making it possible for others to learn and adapt the code, improving on it to make things better for all of us? What will be their motivation to continue? Why should they be the ones to make their code vulnerable when others are protecting their assets?

When you think about it, it is an all or nothing deal. All open source, or eventually, no open source.

The only real protection that an open source developer has is a community who rewards the act of entrusting the community with the code by strictly enforcing the GPL against encrypted solutions and financially supporting the open source solutions. We, as a community, have not beat those drums like we need to! We have not supported our third party developers. They have watched the encrypted code come in. They have watched their products be pirated. And, they had no where else to turn but to encrypt their code.

It's all or nothing. If we move away from the GPL, we will be saying open source doesn't matter and it will be a race to encrypt. The only open source code that will remain will be from newbie developers cutting their teeth. Talented open source developers will go to authentic open source projects who support them and Joomla! will be a useless Internet device, void of encrypted extensions.

++++

What problem are we trying to solve? Let's back up and figure that out.

I have been thinking for awhile that we must figure out revenue issues for the Joomla! project. We need to pay the salaries of our core Joomla! developers and anyone else who is needed to work on this effort full-time. And, we need to start talking about how third party extension providers can be compensated for their work, too.

There are LOTS of open source projects with excellent business models and people are indeed making money. Take Jaspersoft (they use Joomla!, BTW). Anyone can use JasperReports freely as in beer and liberty. Free support is available using the community forums. And, you can get commercial support, too, for a charge. A person on the phone. Someone who will come to your place of business.

Take a look at Ubuntu. They SEND CDs in the mail at their cost. I realize they have one of the world's richest men who seeded the effort,  but they also built a self-sufficient operations in Canonical that sustains this group of people and their work, which is fed upstream back to Debian, and other projects they use.

We need to keep the GPL beneath Joomla! if open source matters and we need to get the encryption out. Then, everyone is back on the same playing field - even - and no one is at a disadvantage for being an open source developer.

One last consideration, and this is the harsh comment, please take it as reality - not an attack. Changing the license would be considered by many, myself included, a serious offense and a breach of trust to the community for the volunteer efforts that have been provided since the fork. Many of us participated because we believe the saying "open source matters" and wanted to support the good that open source can provide the world.

++++

Thank you for accepting input on this.


My apologies, Amy...  I think I jumped to changing the license a bit quickly.

I guess I responded to the declaration of the way things worked on paper and the way things seemed to actually work.  If the GPL says that extensions developers cannot release extensions under a commercial license that does not provide for free distribution of the code, then that does not seem to describe the way things currently work, as my impression was that there are many developers that release commercial components that prohibit redistribution.  See http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,154267.0.html for a conversation where Jinx seems to condone release of commercial extensions.

I am fully behind open source, and this discussion doesn't have that much impact on me personally - I have no commercial interest in Joomla! and I don't make a living off of it.  But it is important to me that we are clear with people about what can be done and what cannot be done.

Illegal may be too strong of a word, but doesn't license violation = illegal?

I think, as Johan said, this issue touches the very foundations of the project and it's community.  I think this is a discussion that needs to be had and needs to be had in a forum that is very visible and public within the community.

Ian


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:06 pm 
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Ian -

You do not need to apologize. You hit the nail right on the head.

We have three choices:

1. Change our license to allow encrypted extensions.
2. Continue with the GPL and get rid of encrypted extensions.
3. Continue with the GPL and declare extensions as "applications" that are not subject to the GPL.

I vote for #2, with the add-on of figuring out the real problem - and I think that is revenue.

I don't make my $ off of J! either. It will be important to have third party developers take on this. And, I hope "it's safe" for everyone to be honest. I certainly support free discussion on this. It's okay for people to see things differently. I understand that open source developers face challenges and I do not believe the community has tried to address their problems, yet.  They've been abandoned and that's not right.

This needs discussion.

Amy

Edit: I wanted to add an agreement, Ian. We have been sending mixed signals and I did read the post you linked to when it happened. As this discussion began today, I was THRILLED to see Johan talking the way that he did because I have long believed we can't have encrypted code in an open source environment and have this really work. I think everyone is trying to think this through because there really is a problem with how we have this setup. It's all good - it's openly being discussed.

Edit #2:
Your statement "this discussion doesn't have that much impact on me personally - I have no commercial interest in Joomla! and I don't make a living off of it. " I disagree with. Here's why it matters to everyone. The community has to get behind the developers - so - some of us have to be those people. We matter, too.  I insist.  ;)

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Last edited by AmyStephen on Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:17 pm 
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Can we talk in terms of open source extensions vs. encrypted extensions?  To be, encryption is a side issue.  The real issue is whether we allow 3pds to release extensions that are not permitted to be freely distributable.

I propose we use the following terminology:
Open Source extensions: extensions that are released under a license compatible with GPL, which means that the distributor must give the distributee free right to redistribute to whomever they want.

Commercial extensions: extensions that are released under a license which prohibits redistribution

So the choices become:

1. Change our license to allow commercial extensions
2. Continue with the GPL and get rid of commercial extensions
3. Continue with the GPL and declare extensions as 'applications' that are not subject to the GPL

I propose removing encryption from the equation because to me it is a side issue.  An extension would only be encrypted because it was not intended to be redistributed.

I think in an ideal world we go with number 2, but I'm not sure we are ready for that yet.  There are too many important extensions that are commercial, IMO.  i.e. the extensions directory functionality is provided by a commercial extension.

Ian


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:28 pm 
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Ian -

What's the problem we are trying to solve?

Amy

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:29 pm 
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I hope to spend a bit more time on this thread a little later on, but a fundamental issue for any discussion of changing the licence is that Joomla! is built on Mambo, which has a GPL licence (thus allowing the spoon).

Unless 1.5 removes all the Mambo code, OSM is not likely to be in a position to licence Joomla! under another licence.

I should disclose that my firm provides IP advice to the Mambo Foundation.

It has always seemed a bit ironic to me that the foundation for Joomla! is called Open Source Matters, when Joomla! has often taken a far less aggressive position on non-open source code than other software that we use in our development and hosting platform (namely Debian GNU/Linux).

I think that extensions which are known to breach the GPL should be removed from the extensions directory so as to avoid arguments of contributory infringement by OSM referring people to infringing software and thereby encouraging them to download (which involves making a copy of or often importing) software in breach of copyright.

If third-party developers are infringing the terms of the GPL in developing and/or distributing their extensions, under Australian law they would likely be engaging in criminal conduct and therefore calling their conduct "illegal" is not inappropriate.

The above is a general discussion only and should not be relied on as legal advice.


Last edited by mixed on Fri May 11, 2007 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:05 am 
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AmyStephen wrote:
Ian -

What's the problem we are trying to solve?

Amy


Well, there are lots of problems to solve.

One is, how do we promote the use and implementation of Joomla!?

The issue we're dealing with right now is whether or not commercial extensions have a part to play in this.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:46 am 
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Commercial is the wrong word, too. But, I was trying to avoid a discussion on the nuances of the GPL which people with expertise like Mixed are able to handle, not me!

Simply put:

- We want open source code; we believe it matters.

- We want third party extensions.

Some third party developers are trying to make a living building software for us. That's great! They do not want their code redistributed according to the terms of the GPL because they are unable to make a living on one sale, after which the GPL liberates the source code.

In my mind, either open source doesn't really work or we need to find a better way to compensate our developers.

Maybe, as a community, we agree that even though it's not against the law, we believe it is not right to redistribute commercial extensions. It's our practice as a community to support our commercial developers by voluntarily not exercising our GPL'd right to redistribute. We will purchase a copy if we want it - we will not ask a neighbor to give us theirs. Then, distribution can be charged at download and the revenue stream would be there.

Yes, people could and would break that rule. But, most people want to do the right thing. This concept puts extensions into roughly the same situation that templates clubs are in today. Yes, some people do not follow the guidelines and are ripping off templates. But, by and large, most people comply.

Maybe developers should be pricing extensions for only one sale by using a bounty program that essentially purchases a single distribution and then liberates the work.

Maybe we try to determine what existing open source projects the community is willing to "purchase" one time to bring it into the fold.

Maybe developers should be focusing on documentation and support for income, along with distribution charges.

Maybe Web 2.0 / hosted applications are the way to make money. In my mind, embedding remote data and/or applications into a Joomla! website is much more clearly a separate application that is not subject to the GPL. Flickr galleries and [youtube] videos, for example, would not have to be GPL'd to use that little bit of Javascript inside of Joomla! to access remote data and applications. Charge for the hosting of the data and the use of the embedded object.

My point is - instead of simply assuming we can't do this and focus on wiggling around the license (which I believe spells the eventual end of the open source character of Joomla!) why don't we see if we can solve the real problem in a better way consistent with the GPL.

I think that our real problem is figuring out the best way to compensate our open source developers.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:30 am 
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AmyStephen wrote:
Commercial is the wrong word, too. But, I was trying to avoid a discussion on the nuances of the GPL which people with expertise like Mixed are able to handle, not me!

Simply put:

- We want open source code; we believe it matters.

- We want third party extensions.

Some third party developers are trying to make a living building software for us. That's great! They do not want their code redistributed according to the terms of the GPL because they are unable to make a living on one sale, after which the GPL liberates the source code.

In my mind, either open source doesn't really work or we need to find a better way to compensate our developers.

Maybe, as a community, we agree that even though it's not against the law, we believe it is not right to redistribute commercial extensions. It's our practice as a community to support our commercial developers by voluntarily not exercising our GPL'd right to redistribute. We will purchase a copy if we want it - we will not ask a neighbor to give us theirs. Then, distribution can be charged at download and the revenue stream would be there.

Yes, people could and would break that rule. But, most people want to do the right thing. This concept puts extensions into roughly the same situation that templates clubs are in today. Yes, some people do not follow the guidelines and are ripping off templates. But, by and large, most people comply.

Okay...  I can accept that...  still need to differentiate free components and commercial components, but then both would be open source?  But then we really have all GPL, but some are donation ware, is what you are saying, right?

At the same time, I wouldn't want there to be any sense of 'shame' for people who do choose to exercise their rights under the GPL.  I don't want to see a two-tiered community.

Quote:
Maybe developers should be pricing extensions for only one sale by using a bounty program that essentially purchases a single distribution and then liberates the work.

This has been tried in other communities.  How well does it work?

Quote:
Maybe we try to determine what existing open source projects the community is willing to "purchase" one time to bring it into the fold.

What does this mean?

Quote:
Maybe developers should be focusing on documentation and support for income, along with distribution charges.

My only problem with this is that at least on some level it encourages systems that are not easy to use.  Support and documentation should be as unnecessary as possible.  My concern would be that all extension documentation would then become commercial.  I don't think that is what we want.

Quote:
Maybe Web 2.0 / hosted applications are the way to make money. In my mind, embedding remote data and/or applications into a Joomla! website is much more clearly a separate application that is not subject to the GPL. Flickr galleries and [youtube] videos, for example, would not have to be GPL'd to use that little bit of Javascript inside of Joomla! to access remote data and applications. Charge for the hosting of the data and the use of the embedded object.

My point is - instead of simply assuming we can't do this and focus on wiggling around the license (which I believe spells the eventual end of the open source character of Joomla!) why don't we see if we can solve the real problem in a better way consistent with the GPL.

My main concern at this point, I guess, is that the situation be clear for those involved.  From my perspective, if this has been the case all along, then we have mislead extension developers into thinking that they can distribute their extensions under a commercial license.

It is fine either way, but I know if I had worked hard developing an extension with the intent to sell it, then discovered that I could only sell it once, I would be pretty ticked off.

If I had known this before hand, I might develop the extension anyway, but I would be aware of the situation before hand, and my expectations would be accurate.

On looking at the extensions directory, there are a LOT of GNU/GPL extensions, and many more that are licensed under other open source licenses.  I think that there are some common ones that are not.

Quote:
I think that our real problem is figuring out the best way to compensate our open source developers.

Sure.  But I think if the situation is at it seems to be, such that commercial extensions break the GPL license, then we need to remove them from the extension directory, or at the very least inform developers of the situation.

Ian


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:11 am 
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Amy

My concern with your proposal is the suggestion that people would be doing the wrong thing by exercising their rights under a licence.

/* This post has turned into a bit of a diatribe, so I apologise in advance - I should have spent the time writing on the underlying legal question but I didn't expect to write so much on this!  I think it is important, however, to consider the underlying issues for any discussion on an issue of this magnitude */

As you no doubt know, the model that a lot of open source developers follow is that if they build an open-source extension then it is likely that a sufficient percentage of users will pay the developers to implement it/extend it rather than do it themselves or pay someone else (less expert in the extension) to do it.  The developers get their revenue from these installations and enhancements, ie services, rather than licensing a base application they have written from scratch (selling widgets).  Because it is free, a level of viral marketing kicks in to aid the broad distribution and adoption of the software and therefore increase the market for support/development services.

Of course some clients will pay developers to build open-source software to fill a need that they have and which they are happy to share either out of the goodness of their hearts or in the hopes of establishing a standard platform.

One of the big reasons the GPL is written the way it is (as distinct from the BSD and other licences) is that philosophically the FSF wants people who build upon "donated" code to have to similarly "donate" their code, rather than create proprietary products that incorporate or are dependent on that donated code.  The FSF does not believe software should have owners http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-free.html - see the section on Economics in particular.

It is correct that hosted applications are certainly one way for developers to make money from modifying/extending GPL software as they don't have to re-distribute their modifications/extensions if they are run on their own servers (at least under the current GPL).  Some people think that is against the spirit of the GPL too though, so to stop this happening the Affero GPL http://www.affero.org/oagpl.html extends the GNU GPL by requiring providers of hosted applications licensed under the Affero GPL to provide a download link to the source (including mods) - see section 2(d).  The great CiviCRM application/extension uses that licence.

The share-and-share-alike nature of the GPL is the foundation that has enabled open source communities like Joomla! to thrive (imagine if Mambo was not licensed under the GPL).  The GPL therefore helps create the fabric of Joomla! society much like our Constitutions and Crimes Acts help create the fabric of our physical societies.  Discussion of changing the licence therefore cannot be raised lightly.

At the end of the day, whether or not the society envisaged by Richard Stallman at the FSF is the one that Joomla!'s developers, contributors and community really want, is up to them/us!  I certainly know that I would generally prefer to pay someone to develop an open-source extension than to license a proprietary one, and our clients appreciate the cost savings they get because the developers/funders of open-source software are so generous.

One way of supporting open source development (in addition to taking action against those who are breaching the GPL or choosing not to buy non-free stuff) is for the collective to support developers of open source projects financially through donations (The Dunc-Tank http://www.dunc-tank.org was an attempt at this for Debian).  If you google Dunc-Tank you will see that this is fraught with issues and really requires a far more transparent governance framework than Joomla! has right now, so that people don't think that there is only a special class of (core) developers who are in the club and get paid, while everyone else are second class citizens (regardless of their merits).  I understand that at present the donations to support Joomla! go to the OSM and are used to cover developers costs attending conferences, running conferences etc - not paying them directly.

If developers of the open source project earn their income through licensing of non-free extensions, there is a risk of conflicts of interest as those core developers then have an interest in not enhancing the open source product in a way that would reduce their revenues.  If the development team is open enough to enable new people to come in and build that functionality, then that is less of an issue for the community of users.

At the end of the day, no one can be expected to do something for nothing and therefore it comes down to how society (both broadly and within the Joomla! developers/community) believes the developers should be rewarded for their efforts.  If it is through fame only, then eventually  developers (who aren't already independently wealthy) will have to convert that fame into food and water by diverting attention from the project to paying work.  That is the natural attrition you tend to see in many open source projects which gives young developers the opportunity to cut their teeth, step-up, prove themselves and move on.

Of course this is a bit of a rant sprouting from the big question underlying all this - Whether commercial non-GPL extensions to Joomla! are legal or not, to which the answer is - it depends  :P -  commercial extension developers to any software (including "free" software) should obtain their own legal advice ;)  (and ianmac's post while I was writing this emphasises that point, so developers don't have false expectations)  Whether or not non-free extensions should be encouraged by the community, even if they are legal, is a question that only the community can answer (through paying for them or supporting open source alternatives instead).

The above is a general discussion only and should not be relied on as legal advice.


Last edited by mixed on Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:52 am 
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I just stumbled across the other hot post on this board regarding accounting for donations http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,160115.0.html and note that my previous post was not intended to buy into that issue.

OSM has its own by-laws and the community is really just along for the ride.  If OSM was to start paying its developers from donations, like Dunc-Tank, then subject to complying with its by-laws (or amending them) and letting donors know, then that is certainly an option open to it.

The fundamental issue for this thread is whether, paid for or not, members of this forum think OSM should only encourage the use of open source extensions (and whether it wants to take any action against the developers/distributors of ones that are not and that infringe Joomla!'s licence).  Debian, for example, has a strict policy of segregating software that is incompatible with the GPL and Debian doesn't promote proprietary software, so OSM could choose not to list closed-source extensions in the extensions directory or could list them in their own section.

It comes down to providing certainty and transparency, which I think Joomla! has a lot of when it comes to development but less of when it comes to OSM and how much governance there is over things like preventing infringement of/by the code, securing IP in the code for the foundation, governance of these forums, the forge etc.


Last edited by mixed on Fri May 11, 2007 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:29 am 
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This thread is about encrypted extensions, and this is the extenesion it was all about.

http://extensions.joomla.org/component/ ... Itemid,35/

I bought the extension for the high price it is, but then it didnt work so i contacted support from the seller.
They told me that the adress i typed in was wrong. So i asked for a fix for this, and they told me that it does
not apply, bought is bought. So i tried changing the code myself, finding that they had encrypted the code
and that i could not decrypt it or change it in any way. So there i was, i spent alot of money on nothing.

So i contacted paypal for refund, but they just said that the seller told them that i had done wrong when buying it.
Then they dropped the case...

So when i mean that encrypted components are bad, this is a good example. What else is in this code that
is encrypted? It could as well had been a file manager, leaving access to the complete contents of my file server.

And how can i know if they can be trusted? when i bought the module i couldnt see any complaints. Because the
complaints that was sent to them, was hidden on their site and needed one to first buy this module.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:45 am 
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@mixed thatnks for your contributions o this discussion it is really good to have someone with your expertise contributing.

@Jinx The selling of GPL licenced code is specificaly allowed by the GPL

@all The distribution of encrypted code by itelf is not necessarily a breach of the GPL as the developer would only have to make the appropriate source available to satsfy the GPL. this would be no different to the manufacturer of a router with embedded code (that includes GPL code) making the source code available for download elsewhere.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:48 am 
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Brian: Glad to contribute. 

All: Here is a link to the relevant GNU GPL for anyone following this: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html.

You will see that you can charge for distributing GPL licensed code (section 1), subject to complying with the other terms of the GPL which include not charging third parties a licence fee as such (section 2(b)), including a copy of the GPL with the program (section 1) and providing access to the source code (section 3).

Of course for this thread, the fundamental issue is whether or not extension developers have to license their extensions under the GPL.  The key provision on this point is in section 2:

Quote:
"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. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it."


Whether an extension can be considered to be an "independent and separate work" from Joomla! will depend very much on the way the extension integrates/interacts with Joomla!, how it is distributed and the interpretation of the GNU GPL in your jurisdiction.  If the extension cannot work without Joomla! and uses Joomla! libraries that are not licensed under the GNU LGPL http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html then I think it is more likely to be considered NOT to be an "independent and separate work" than would be a separate application that is bridged to Joomla! (although the bridge may or may not be an "independent and separate work").

Obviously this has implications for how you build your extension, which is why I always recommend extension developers obtain legal advice in their jurisdiction (and potentially in jurisdictions they are distributing into) if they wish to develop/distribute extensions to third party applications (whether they are licensed under the GNU GPL or otherwise), and particularly if they wish to license extensions to GNU GPL software under a different licence.

The above is a general discussion only and should not be relied on as legal advice.


Last edited by mixed on Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:10 pm 
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note to self.. should read and comment on this later

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:21 pm 
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Adam, I agree - it has implications for your use of the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License for YaNC 1.5, particularly in light of the previous use of the GNU GPL for YaNC, as discussed some time ago on your forum.


Last edited by mixed on Fri May 11, 2007 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:26 pm 
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Yeah, I heard last week that Creative Commons isn't the right license for software anyway, so I'm looking into that as well.
Besides that, I do deliver a commercial component (which is encrypted), so I will have to think about that as well.

and, I'm working on a restaurant suit (a collection of components, modules which will help a restaurant organize itself), which I was planning to sell encrypted as well.. so obviously this discussion has impact on that as well..

if I can't protect work, that I've put months of development work into, what's the use in building/releasing it anyway...

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