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.
- 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?
- 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?
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.