Database data GPL ?

*IF* you want to share your opinion on the GPL issue, this is the place for you.
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Database data GPL ?

Post by notzippy » Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:21 pm

Hi

Its sad to see a good CMS get so fractured over a licensing issue. I understand a lot of the commercial developers frustration and cannot blame them for bailing. However I was curious if the GPL license also included the data & database schema for joomla ? If I wrote a NON-GPL (commercial) application whose sole purpose was to collect and list the user names and email addresses would this violate the GPL license ? Obviously the software cannot function without Joomla being installed so I could never say it was a "standalone" appliance and in accordance to your FAQ if it cannot operate without joomla then it must be GPL'd.

Thoughts ?

z
Last edited by Jinx on Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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re: Topic: Database data GPL

Post by lobos » Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:46 pm

Its sad to see a good CMS get so fractured over a licensing issue. I understand a lot of the commercial developers frustration and cannot blame them for bailing. However I was curious if the GPL license also included the data & database schema for joomla ? If I wrote a NON-GPL (commercial) application whose sole purpose was to collect and list the user names and email addresses would this violate the GPL license ? Obviously the software cannot function without Joomla being installed so I could never say it was a "standalone" appliance and in accordance to your FAQ if it cannot operate without joomla then it must be GPL'd.
It is in my opinion that the GPL does NOT cover data & database schema. If this was the case, every time you added data to your database it would automatically be covered by the GPL, ie if you had a joomla site and you added an article it would become GPL.

For more information on deploying non-gpl licensed extensions with J! please check my other post:

http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,186705.0.html

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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by mcsmom » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:08 pm

This is one of the questions I asked early on, but I am still not sure of if there is a bright line and if so what it is.

Obviously the data itself is not licensed, but the question is whether the Joomla!-specific data structures are. 

Of course, any of us can write a mysql query to run on our Joomla! database. SO it isn't really true that you need Joomla! to run or even be installed to get the data out (you could remove the Joomla!files and still run the query).

You can even write a php application to do the query without having Joomla! operating. So, it might be the case that this would be a stand alone application. On the other hand, the data would not be there, organized as it is if Joomla! had not structured it. 

As always, no one can say for sure about a specific case without looking at the code.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by notzippy » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:27 pm

lobos: Thanks , I have been following your notes both here and at jcd. As a custom website developer I appreciate the effort you are putting into this.

mcsmom: I think the line was crossed when a plugin was considered a derivative work. If that were the case I would owe MS for every application that I wrote because I use there API's. Personally I think a CPL (http://opensource.org/licenses/cpl1.0.php) license would have been best for J!, but that point has been long past...

z

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Re: Database data GPL

Post by lobos » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:35 pm

On the other hand, the data would not be there, organized as it is if Joomla! had not structured it.


MCSmom,

This is not a good place to go, moving from code to the actual data structure. Remember that Joomla! is not the primary mover in the environment that it operates in, in fact one could even say that the query / database actually structures the data and not Joomla!

Data is data, it's very nature defines interaction. Moving derivate accusations over to the data structure implies "software patent" to me and I would hope that all concerned parties in this debate would stay well away this.

So now we have a new question: Is the Database Schema / Structure licensed as well under the GPL?

-Lobos
Last edited by lobos on Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by mcsmom » Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:44 pm

@lobos Believe me, I'm well aware. That's why I asked the question originally. It's the far, far edge case.

@notzippy: MS isn't under the gpl and so has its own distinctive set of rules and guidelines.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by aoirthoir » Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:01 pm

If that were the case I would owe MS for every application that I wrote because I use there API's.
Actually, typically you do pay microsoft for use of their APIs, via purchasing their programming tools and the operating system they run on. Microsoft benefits when you use their API because it causes more people to purchase their programs. If I do not have a licensed copy of Microsoft Windows, I am unable to use their API in order to test my application. I can use in some instances programs that attempt to mimic and reverse engineer their API (wine, reactos), but these will not provide an environment that is truly capable of testing a windows API based application. And that is besides the already mentioned fact that typically, you would also be purchasing microsoft development tools.

The 'payment' for using GNU GPL based software, is the return to the community of your modifications, if you distribute.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by Beat » Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:30 pm

Sorry, have to jump into here for my 6th post on this topic. Sorry for your time reading all of this, and sorry for delaying my work by another hour or so.

With all due respect to everyone, it is my personal opinion (after due legal advice received on this topic) that saying that data or a data-structure could constitute a "link" for program copyright is just mixing up copyright law, patent law, and contract-law and is a perfect example of where this non-sense could be going.
  • Copyright law in software governs the lines of code that you write, and the copying of those lines.
  • Patent law governs the ideas, structures and inventions made.
  • Copyright law again (but not same copyright holder, sorry) governs the content in the data-structure.
  • Contract law in the case of the GPL licence contract governs only the copying, distribution and modification of the software.
Now saying that Joomla's data-structure creates a link to the data in the database, and that the copyright holder of the program suddenly has any reach on the data inside the structure doesn't make *any* legal sense.

In some countries *caugh* software inventions are patentable. The whole open-source community is against software patents for good cause.

Now *even* if Joomla would patent that structure (*caugh* on-topic: what is the unfindable "Patent Pending: 2114896543" btw ;) , please, Louis ?), which it can't for very obvious reasons, it would still not make the data inside the datastructure covered by the copyright of joomla !

In cleartext, saying that joomla's copyright and the GPL extends to the database and its content would mean you say "joomla's licence covers your website content, which should be GPL-compatible".

Non-sense. With due Respect, but still non-sense.

Regarding contract-law, the GPL is very clear in that respect:

GPL v2, chapter 0, paragraphs 2:
Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not
covered by this License; they are outside its scope.
  The act of
running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program
is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the
Program (independent of having been made by running the Program).
Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.
GPL v2, chapter 2, paragraphs 3 and 4:
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.

Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest
your rights to work written entirely by you
; rather, the intent is to
exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or
collective works based on the Program.
Can we please say "so it has been written, so it has been agreed, so is it", pleeease :) ?

Peacefully, Respetfully and Freely,

Back to fun work :P
Beat 8)
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by lobos » Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:36 pm

Beat,

Thank you for your sanity.

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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by aoirthoir » Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:00 pm

Beat,

I think perhaps you and Lobos are misunderstanding what MCSmom said. Maybe I am wrong. But from the sound of the answers, it appears that you think she is saying the databases are or might be copyrighted. In fact as she said, you dont even need Joomla! to access the databases. True she added that without Joomla! the databases would not exist without Joomla!, but this is not saying or inferring that this is covered by the GPL. The data itself, is simply output from the program. Thus it is not part of the GPL. Unless of course there is program code in that data.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by mcsmom » Thu Jul 26, 2007 1:18 am

Yes, Beat if you are addressing my post, you are clearly misreading it.

First, data is never gpl'd--the whole mode of gpl is web 2.0 which separates structure and content. The content is always yours.
Also, PERSONALLY (and as someone who does not hold a copyright to anything in Joomla!) my feeling is that even in a non-template extension, you do not have to gpl the css, java script or similar items.  Thus, for example, (and just in my opinion) one business model is to have a gpl barebones extension and then a version that comes with the javascript, skins etc. that you could limit to one site or put any other restrictions on.

Personally, I think (based on my current understanding) that if someone writes a standalone program that does not have to have Joomla! running in order to operate, I think it's okay to make mysql calls to the Joomla! tables in a database (since of course you can add whatever tables you want to your database) from a non-joomla program. BUt as always, I am not a lawyer.

Beat, since you are posting, could you please explain about how gpl and non gpl items are combined in community builder?
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by Jenny » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:09 am

mcsmom wrote: This is one of the questions I asked early on, but I am still not sure of if there is a bright line and if so what it is.

Obviously the data itself is not licensed, but the question is whether the Joomla!-specific data structures are. 

Of course, any of us can write a mysql query to run on our Joomla! database. SO it isn't really true that you need Joomla! to run or even be installed to get the data out (you could remove the Joomla!files and still run the query).

You can even write a php application to do the query without having Joomla! operating. So, it might be the case that this would be a stand alone application. On the other hand, the data would not be there, organized as it is if Joomla! had not structured it. 

As always, no one can say for sure about a specific case without looking at the code.

It is the "on the other hand" statement that absolutely clouds the issue.  The data is contained in data tables structured by Joomla! so if the structure is accessed to get to the data is that were the problem lies?

Either the data can be accessed by a non-gpl compatible program and is not in violation of the GPL license or it can't be accessed by a non-gpl compatible program because it would be a violation of the GPL license.  Is the naming structure of the MySQL database also part of Joomla's copyright?  Is that why it would be a violation? 

More clarity on the statement would help me in understanding exactly what the issue with databases are.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by aoirthoir » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:32 am

MMMedia,

The date in MySQL tables are OUTPUT of the program. For whether this is covered by the GPL we quote here:
Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not
covered by this License; they are outside its scope.  The act of
running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program
is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the
Program (independent of having been made by running the Program).
Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.
So the question I would ask is, do these data structures store program code? An example. Right now I am working on a multitude of MySQL stored procedures, triggers, and functions. Many of my tables require the same skeletons for CREATE TABLE, CREATE TRIGGER, and so on. Rather than repeating all of these each time, or trying to copy and paste, I am creating MySQL functions which OUTPUT the code to generate each of these. So for instance I can add the following statement to my create table.sql file:

set @stmt = `sead`.`systemcolumns`("databasename","tablename");
PREPARE statement FROM @stmt;
EXECUTE statement;
DEALLOCATE PREPARE statement;

I then substitute both databasename and table name for the actual db and table and the common columns are added automatically. So then I get output like this:

              ALTER TABLE `accounting`.`payables`
              ADD `inserted` datetime default NULL,
              ADD `insertedby` varchar(30) default NULL,
              ADD `insertedcomment` varchar(100) default NULL,
              ADD `updated` datetime default NULL,
              ADD `updatedby` varchar(30) default NULL,
              ADD `updatedcomment` varchar(100) default NULL,
              ADD `errormsg` varchar(100) default NULL,
              ADD UNIQUE KEY (`errormsg`)

So you can see that this is not just data that is being output. It is code. While you cannot tell from this little snippet, these types of code generating functions are integral to my application. The application is the code, and it generates its own code. So this output is licensed under the GPL. (Actually it will be licensed under the AGPLv3.)

Now with Joomla the tables will contain things like usernames, passwords, pages, and so forth. All of this is content, most of it user generated. So the GPL does not apply, and that claim isnt being made. If the data were in text files, anyone could access them, rearrange them, basically do anything they wanted. The GPL does not prevent this. This doesnt change when the data is moved to table structures in a MySQL database. Anyone that hase permission on the database can do their own SELECTS, INSERTS, DELETES, ALTER TABLEs and so on without restriction, because these are output. As mentioned most of it is user generated output at that. So unless I am missing something and Joomla uses the SQL to generate its code, then there is no problem with a developer accessing these via their own PHP files, or bash, or mysql console or java or any other language's system.

Hope that clarifies.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by Jenny » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:54 am

Thank you aoirthoir.

I just wanted to know why it would potentially be a violation due to program A (GPL) organizing and structuring the database and program B (non-GPL compatible) accessing the data in that database.  It would seem that there is no issue with accessing data in the database - either the data created by running of program A, or the data that may be created by the second program B.  The data can then be co mingled in the same database and all data can be used by both A and B?

Right?  ???
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by aoirthoir » Thu Jul 26, 2007 3:06 am

MMMedia,

Yes I would say most definitely. It would be like putting multiple files in the same directory. The GPL in no way prevents this. In fact, at least as far as MyISAM and ARCHIVE tables, that's exactly what happens. They are just files in the mysql directory/dbname.

So I can add as many tables as I want to the Joomla DB. However, just to be safe I would put them in my own DB. Now I wont do this because of licensing issues. I would do it in case some other developer also put her files in the Joomla DB. Then another did. And another. Soon my tables would all be difficult to see easily say with a show tables; statement:)
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by louis.landry » Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:51 am

Just to clear up a few misunderstandings if they exist.
  • Joomla! is a program.
  • Joomla! interacts with data in a database.
  • Joomla! is licensed under the GNU GPL..
This database is a container for data; not a part of the executing program.  Data which is moved around and manipulated by the program.

The GNU GPL does not implicitly license the data acted upon by the program.  There has also been mention of data structures.  In some instances, I believe working with objects of the program -- the data structures -- could be considered in court equations of defining derivative works.  The data structures themselves are very distinctly different than that data that resides in those data structures.  The database schema is in no way a data structure of the program any more than the data in the database (which is worked on by the program) a part of the copyrighted program.

I doubt very seriously that any court would rule that interacting with the data in the database could in any way construe something as a derivative work.  That idea is very, very far-fetched.

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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by mcsmom » Thu Jul 26, 2007 1:57 pm

Thanks Louis. Sorry for any confusion my phrasing may have created.


One reason I asked this question months ago is that there was a proprietary extension that said that as part of the license agreement you could not copy your database. Not the tables for that extension, but the database as a whole. To me that was totally unacceptable given that what was being sold was based on Joomla!.  I'm sure that some purely propietary applications have restrictions like this, but there is no way it is okay in a gpl environment.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by aoirthoir » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:15 pm

MCSmom,

Thanks for clarifying that. Thankfully the GPL doesnt provide these kinds of restrictions on user generated data. Certainly if I create a table with my own data I can copyright that...and maybe that is the issue with the extension you are talking about. But if it is user generated data, I don't see copyright applying, except that the user would own the copyrights to their own data.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by Jenny » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:24 pm

You are saying that in effect the end user had no right to copy, as in backing up their database would be copying, their own database for their own site?
mcsmom wrote: Thanks Louis. Sorry for any confusion my phrasing may have created.


One reason I asked this question months ago is that there was a proprietary extension that said that as part of the license agreement you could not copy your database. Not the tables for that extension, but the database as a whole. To me that was totally unacceptable given that what was being sold was based on Joomla!.  I'm sure that some purely propietary applications have restrictions like this, but there is no way it is okay in a gpl environment.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by mcsmom » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:31 pm

Yes. Not that I bought it, but that is what it said in the product restrictions. I kind of assume they would let you run backups, but it seemed like you wouldn't be allowed to make a new Joomla! install and import the data. It also seemed to me that you couldn't install other extensi9ons.

I notice that the site with that product no longer has those restrictions listed in prepurchase materials, so maybe they realized it was not right.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by Jenny » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:32 pm

And that extension was a GPL extension?

Edit: sorry I see that you say it was proprietary.  That is why I was confused.  With what you stated in your earlier post I was under the impression that we were discussing extensions accessing the database, and if in doing that if that extension would have to be GPL (that was where the question was)  because it access data.  That extensions would be in violation in not GPL because of the data structure.  I didn't realize you were referring to a proprietary extension putting restrictions on the ability for a user to use their Joomla! site.

I did not see where you asked this question months ago.  Perhaps a link to that thread so everyone can get a firm grip on what this whole misunderstanding was all about?
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by mcsmom » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:40 pm

Interesting question. Not having purchased I haven't seen the licensing information.
Of course, it is legitimate to sell gpl products.

For me, as an end user, I'm not going to use open source software to write new applications, what matters to me is my data. A lot of proprietary applications, particularly hosted ones, do literally own your data.That is one reason for me to prefer open source. I always want the ability to take my data and do what I want with it including pulling it in to other applications.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by Rogue4ngel » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:50 pm

For me, as an end user, I'm not going to use open source software to write new applications, what matters to me is my data. A lot of proprietary applications, particularly hosted ones, do literally own your data.That is one reason for me to prefer open source. I always want the ability to take my data and do what I want with it including pulling it in to other applications.
If anyone ever used ACT! software, they'd be very sensitive to this for sure!  When ACT! released it's 2005 version, using Microsoft SQL Server, it was completely incompatible with previous versions.  The company I was consulting for upgraded, and found out the product was simply horrendous.  When an attempt was made to downgrade, they were told it was going to cost them $1500 to do that by the company, and they had to send the database to them.  They were not allowed at access there data.

What eventually happend was a 3PD came up with a program to hack the database and get the software to extract the data, which was questionable, but companies paid and signed waivers to do it so they could get their data back that was being held hostage by their own application.

It wasn't pretty.  ACT! was a good product before 2005.  I don't think they've managed to recover since..

Now I always look into products to see if the data is readily accessible before I make any recommendations on purchase.
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Re: Database data GPL ?

Post by Jinx » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:42 pm

Moderator note : closing down topic, question has been answered, answer below :
louis.landry wrote:
Just to clear up a few misunderstandings if they exist.
  • Joomla! is a program.
  • Joomla! interacts with data in a database.
  • Joomla! is licensed under the GNU GPL..
This database is a container for data; not a part of the executing program.  Data which is moved around and manipulated by the program.

The GNU GPL does not implicitly license the data acted upon by the program.  There has also been mention of data structures.  In some instances, I believe working with objects of the program -- the data structures -- could be considered in court equations of defining derivative works.  The data structures themselves are very distinctly different than that data that resides in those data structures.  The database schema is in no way a data structure of the program any more than the data in the database (which is worked on by the program) a part of the copyrighted program.

I doubt very seriously that any court would rule that interacting with the data in the database could in any way construe something as a derivative work.  That idea is very, very far-fetched.

Louis
Short answer : The data in the database is not covered by the GPL, the GPL only covers the distribution of the code, not the data/output created by that code.

Johan
Last edited by Jinx on Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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