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2008

JED to be GPL Only by July 2009
Written by Lorenzo Garcia   
Saturday, 27 December 2008 16:50

 

About Joomla! and the GPL

The Joomla Project is a GPL community, which means not just that a particular Free and Open Source license is used for Joomla software, but also that we believe in the mission and values behind that license. These include collaboration, community, and freedom. The GPL license embodies these values.

The Joomla Extensions Directory  and the GPL

The Joomla Extensions Directory (JED) is important for many reasons: it makes it easier for users to find extensions, and it helps support the development of a vibrant and healthy commercial and non-commercial development community around Joomla. However, it may also be unintentionally undermining our support of the GPL by including extensions and other applications that run counter to it.

After careful thought and reflection, the Joomla Project has determined that the Joomla! Extensions Directory should be a community resource that fully embodies the project's values.

What Change Are We Making?

Starting on 1 March 2009 only Joomla! extensions licensed under the GNU GPL will be accepted into the JED.  After another three months, from 1 July 2009, such extensions will no longer be listed in the JED.  Under the same schedule, all encrypted or encoded extensions, whether or not they are GPL licensed, will also be excluded. Third party developers are a valued part of our community and in order to make this transition as easy as possible for them we selected a long notification period. This change is designed to strengthen the project's active commitment to its core mission, vision and values as articulated in September 2008.

Timeline

  • June 15th 2007: Joomla! confirmed that both Joomla! 1.0 and Joomla! 1.5 are released under the pure GNU GPL.
  • March 1st 2009: Only Joomla! extensions licensed under the GNU GPL will be accepted into the JED.
  • July 1st: 2009: Only Joomla! extensions licensed under the GNU GPL will be listed in the JED.

Why Wait Six Months?

We understand this will be a difficult process for some developers, and we feel a responsibility to give ample notice. We want to make sure our developers have enough time to make adjustments to their product marketing and business structure, if necessary, in order to maintain their listing in the directory.

The GPL and Commercial Developers

Does this mean there will be no more commercial extensions in the JED? No.

Prohibiting commercial distribution would violate the GNU GPL and the Joomla community values of equality and freedom. Commercial extensions with the GNU GPL license and that are not encrypted are welcomed and encouraged in the JED. Today 17% of the extensions in the JED (22% of 1.5 Native extensions) are commercial, and many of those are already licensed using the GNU GPL. Among 1.5 native commercial extensions 35% are licensed using GNU GPL.

The JED Supports Developers

The Joomla team is strongly committed to supporting both commercial and non-commercial Joomla developers. We have implemented some policy changes to enhance our support for developers. We think that the best place to get an extension is from the original developer of that extension.  Therefore we will not link to collections of GPL extensions that are not submitted by the original developer. These are not requirements of the GPL license but rather fall in line with our "forking" guidelines that no direct copies or minor-changed copies of JED-listed projects will be listed.  We support the original project developer whenever possible to maintain the integrity of the listings and support developers who are building and innovating on the Joomla platform.

To have a forked project listed in the JED it must meet our requirements:

  • Significant change

    Forked project must represent a significant code improvement, either in features or security and structure.

  • Intent to develop and support

    Forked project must exhibit an intent to develop and support the new product.

  • Unique name

    We do not allow forked projects by new developers to build on the name of the original developer without permission.

  • Unique version structure

    Version numbering must clearly indicate a new project.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Options Do Developers Have?

The project supports developers who are building and innovating on the Joomla platform. We are committed to providing the information and help that developers need in order to relicense (or to license for the first time, if there is no current license). The JED editors and members of the Core Team and Open Source Matters board are ready to advise or assist any developer who would like this help.If you have any questions about licensing or want help, then you can contact OSM with the following email address license@opensourcematters.org or the JED editors at team@extensions.joomla.org. Developers not currently using the GNU GPL may choose to switch from their current licensing to the GNU GPL or to no longer participate in the JED.

What if I have some GPL and some non-GPL extensions?

This policy refers only to those extensions listed in the JED. Your GPL extensions are permitted to be listed on the JED but your non-GPL extensions are not.

Where can I get information about how to license my product using the GNU GPL?

Every copy of Joomla includes a copy of the GNU GPL with instructions for licensing in the license.php file. Instructions are also available from the Free Software Foundation.

All you need to do is add two elements to each source file of your program: a copyright notice (such as “Copyright 1999 Terry Jones”), and a statement of copying permission, saying that the program is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. (Free Software Foundation)

Can I use GPL v3 to license my extension?

Yes. In particular, you may need to use GPLv3 if you rely on certain third party libraries or APIs for your extension.

What GPL version is Joomla! licensed under?

Joomla! is licensed under GPL version 2 or later.

What does this mean for enforcement of the Joomla! license more generally?

Enforcement of the Joomla! license is a separate issue from the policies of the JED.

Isn't the JED itself built on a non-GPL extension?

The current version of the JED built on Joomla 1.5 uses a GNU GPL extension, Mosets Tree for Joomla! 1.5.

What if I think my extension doesn't violate the Joomla! license?

This is a policy in favor of software freedom and the mission, vision and values of the Joomla! Project, not one about technical issues in licensing.

Can I use a GPL compatible license?

The JED will only list extensions licensed using the GNU GPL.

Why are only GNU GPL licensed extensions being listed?

The simple answer is, making the JED a GPL only resource is the easiest and most practical solution. It frees the JED team from having to investigate or worry about licensing issues. It frees OSM from having to create and maintain a list of one or more acceptable licenses. When you break it down, other licenses were created because they opposed one or more parts of the GPL. The only license that truly embodies the spirit of the GPL is the GPL. Throughout the Open Source world, there is plenty of disagreement over what that spirit is and there is even more disagreement over what licenses are compatible and incompatible. In the end, our list of compatible licenses might be very different from yours. Our list of licenses that share the spirit of the GPL will most certainly be different than yours. So, we could waste months of time researching a list and debating which licenses should be included and excluded or we can make it simple and easy to understand for the community, the developers, and the JED team so that we can use those precious months to focus on the real point of this project: making great software.

Can I use libraries in my GPL extension that are GPL compatible?

Yes.

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Update 29-Dec-08 22:00 CET - We have added 2 new questions to the FAQ and simplified the answer for "Can I use a GPL compatible license?", this since we follow up this answer with new questions.