Some Common Questions

*IF* you want to share your opinion on the GPL issue, this is the place for you.
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Some Common Questions

Post by mcsmom » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:29 am

I am going to repost the brief FAQ that was at the beginning of the other thread. I went through that thread and tried to pick out questions and answers of interest to users. If there are mistakes here I will fix them as I hear about them.

And thanks to everyone whose words from the other thread I quoted.

Remember, this is strictly my opinion and not the opinion of OSM or of the faq team. I'm not a lawyer or a licensing expert.

I have commercial or proprietary extensions installed on my site. Do I have to remove them?

The licensing issue has nothing at all to do with actual web sites.

The GPL licence that Joomla! is distributed under guarantees your right to use or modify Joomla! in any way you want.  That includes adding proprietary code into it, even proprietary extensions obtained from third-party developers.  The whole point of the GPL is to defend your rights as a user.

You would only be violating the GPL if you attempted to distribute Joomla! with the proprietary code.  But then if you bought your extensions under a proprietary licence you'd probably be violating that licence too.  So as long as you don't distribute the code you have nothing to worry about

Can I be sued for using a commercial or propriety extension?

The licensing issue has to do with the development of extensions, not with individual websites.

Does this hold for the future too i.e. is this an 'amnesty' for sites that are currently live with non-gpl extensions, or will it always be ok to launch a J! site in the future with non-gpl extensions?

The licensing issue has nothing to do with individual sites that are not redistributing their version of Joomla! or extensions. No amnesty is needed because GPL is not an issue for end users who do not redistribute the software.

I use a commercial or proprietary extension. Does this announcement mean I am free to copy and redistribute that extension?

No. All copyright and rules for the licenses that come with a particular extension still apply. The developers of each extension will have to make decisions about whether to make their licenses  GPL in the future.

What practical difference will a switch to GPL have for me?

Under GPL you will legally be able to modify the extension program in any way you like as long as you leave the licensing and copyright information in place.

Under GPL, once you have the open source program, you are allowed to redistribute it. This includes using multiple copies on your own site.

As a practical matter, how you use this is up to you. But it means among other things that
• You can fix bugs as you find them
• You can customize an application in any way you want.
• If a developer stops working on the application you or someone else can continue development without fear of any legal consequences.
• You can hire someone who is not the developer to perform any of the above functions.

What are the plans for the extensions directory?
The extensions directory is one of the issues we are continuing to work on. Research is still being done on what the options are. In addition to dealing with what is listed in the directory, we are dealing with license issues around the extension that runs the directory and that is actually our bigger priority. The people who run our sites are committed to having high quality user friendly structures and any downtime will be very limited, though as with anything involving software, you can never promise perfection.
Whatever happens with the directory, there will be plenty of notice.

Is in violation of GPL by having proprietary extensions on its website?
The fact that is using proprietary extensions on its websites does not put us in violation of the GPL any more than any other end user.  But it does set a bad example and we are acutely aware of that.  We will be asking the developers of those extensions to bring them into compliance.

If someone is selling a GPL extension are they doing something illegal or unethical?
The GPL allows the selling of software produced with this license if certain requirements are met. Those requirements include that the software is “open source” which means that you can see the source code used to run it, that you are able to modify that source code as you wish as long as you do not change the license, and that you are allowed to make copies and redistribute under the same license.

If someone is selling an encrypted extension are they doing something illegal or unethical?
Under the GPL, software can be encrypted if an unencrypted copy of the source code is available on request for a fee no more than the costs of making it available.

I paid for an extension. Is it possible I could have gotten it for free?
It might be, it depends on the extension in question.

Why might I want to purchase a commercial extension instead of looking for a free copy?
It depends on the extension, but you may have access to special services including support, bug notification, upgrades and other benefits. In addition, if you by from the developer who created the extension you are possibly supporting his or her investment of time in the maintenance and development of that extension.

How do I know who the original developer is?

The managers of the Joomla! extensions directory make a strong effort to provide a link to the original developer of an extension as long as he or she is maintaining it. This, of course, cannot be guaranteed. Additional ways to find this are to search or ask on the forums at or to research it on the web.

What happens if a developer stops supporting an extension?

With any software project under any license, there is a possibility of this happening. The best advice we have is that you reach out to the developer or to members of the user community for that extension to get additional information. If the extension was licensed under GPL it is possible that another developer will assume responsibility for future development.

If I customize a GPL extension or modify the core files of Joomla! do I then have to give my work away?

No. The GPL only comes into play if you decide to distribute your work.

What should I do if I suspect an extension violates the GPL?

Only the copyright holder whose rights are possibly being violated has standing to file a complaint, and he or she is the ONLY one who could receive any monetary damages for the copyright violation. If you suspect a violation you should contact the copyright holder. The Free Software Foundation provides the following information about procedures to follow if a violation is suspected. ... ation.html

The FSF approach focuses on obtaining compliance, rather than obtaining monetary damages.

Joomla! is working to help developers understand the GPL licence and what it takes to comply with it

Open Source Matters is aware that there are noncompliant extensions listed in the Joomla! Extensions directory. It is not necessary to report these to Open Source Matters. If you are a copyright holder you have your own standing to seek compliance with the license on your work.

Where can I learn more about the GNU GPL?
The GNU General Public License:
The GNU GPL Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
The philosophy behind the GNU:
Last edited by mcsmom on Sun Jul 01, 2007 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Some Common Questions

Post by brad » Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:47 am

Mod note: removed commenting post. Sorry, this thread should have been locked. It will be now ;)
Brad Baker <-- Joomla Help & Tutorials



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