Joomla will remain under the GPL

Joomla loves GNU GPLIn what has been one of the most demanding legal and technical thought processes I’ve seen outside a courtroom (before Paris went to jail), the Joomla core team and the Open Source Matters board of directors have unanimously agreed today that Joomla will remain under the General Public License (GPL). Speaking for this writer, I truly believe this will aid in the growth of the Joomla ecosystem and the open source ecosystem as a whole.

The words used by the core team will be parsed, snipped, and likely taken out of context in the days to come, but reading the treatsie from the Web site is a lesson in open source community building and professional diplomacy.

Starting with, “Joomla! is moving to ensure the future of the project by committing to compliance with the GNU/GPL licence,” the letter to the community includes the following sections:

  1. Slow and steady. This will be the path to which the community will lead in becoming more GPL compliant.
  2. We’re unique. For a community this large, with such a unique history, we’re not going to find quick solutions.
  3. Joomla! Web sites ( sites) will be made compliant with the GPL. Teach by setting the example.
  4. Joomla! will ask its huge community to voluntarily become more compliant with the GPL license.
  5. The Joomla! community will be committed to providing education in guiding better GPL compliance. Provide aid, not hand slaps.

When a community grows to this size, we all must look inward to see where our core values will lead us. In this case, the entire core team and OSM have spoken in unison, and in this project’s case, the values include compliance with the GPL.

Some people have argued that this is a “strict interpretation” of the GPL. I’m not sure what they mean, however, as this simply is the way the GPL was written. In fact, those providing legal guidance to our community on this issue, the Software Freedom Law Center, are the people that helped write the GPL.

What is left now is to see the reactions of the commercial developers in the community (of which PICnet is one). There have been strong voices on the opinions of the subject, even from Joomla developers that have been around for a long time. PICnet will do its best to lead by example, and in the coming months will be unveiling new options for organizations to acquire GPL’d Joomla! extensions.

I know that one concern that many third party commercial developers have is what they consider a veiled threat of legal action against them for violating the GPL by distributing non-GPL compliant Joomla! extensions. A quote from the forums today from core team member Louis sums up his position quite nicely:

“Lets cut the crap, you guys think that one of us intends to sue you for violating the GNU GPL? It would be a hell of a lot easier for us to just get a band of open source developers together to recreate your project and render it useless. That would take no legal fees, save us time and in the end benefit the community a hell of a lot more than scaremongering and postulating on the ridiculous notion that we are out to get someone. We are open source geeks…peaceful people.”,163492.msg861430.html#msg861430

What is ironic about the entire process, however, is that we’re talking about keeping the same license that is used in the wildly popular 1.0.x series. I know that I personally will be aiding in the effort to help better understand what GPL compliant business models can be made, especially in a community whose leadership has spoke so strongly today in support of it.

This is Day 1. I have a feeling our beloved GPL thread will be growing well beyond its 56 pages by tomorrow at dawn.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2007 at 9:34 pm and is filed under GPL, Joomla, nptech, open source. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Joomla will remain under the GPL”

  1. Amy Stephen says:

    Our next Joomla! t-shirts “We are open source geeks…peaceful people.” It’s a great decision. Thanks for helping liberate Joomla!.

  2. Picnet: Joomla! will remain under the GPL…

    Ryan Ozimek from Picnet says: In what has been one of the most demanding legal and technical thought processes I’ve seen outside a courtroom (before Paris went to jail), the Joomla core team and the Open Source Matters board of directors have unanim…

  3. Brian Teeman says:

    How is the “statement” by Louis not a threat. He is implying that instead of suing picnet for their salesforce extension being non gpl they will use the money that would be spent on legal fees to do the work themselves and release their own salesforce extension. This sort of language is unfortunate as have been the allegations of illegal action by a founder of joomla and former opensource matters director

    Note: salesforce used as an example name and nothing more

  4. Ryan Ozimek


    Thanks for the comment. I can’t speak on behalf of Louis, but from PICnet’s perspective, we have been talking about the GPL’ing of many of our internally used and “in the laboratory” components for some time now. Of course, we don’t have a “store” by which we currently sell components, but you get the picture. With the core team taking the slow and steady approach, I know that myself and others have actively been looking for ways to both clean up our own houses now that we have a much clearer understanding of the GPL, and are looking forward to having the Joomla community be a shining light of how the GPL can aid community growth.

    Additionally, I’m excited that PICnet will soon provide a variety of GPL components via our Web site, some for free and others for a fee. We hope that we can continue to learn more and become another example of how GPL + commercial interests can work in harmony.

  5. Brian Teeman says:

    I trust you realise that anyone who pays money for your gpl software can give it to me or anyone else for $000.00

  6. Ryan Ozimek


    You’re partially right. They couldn’t use:

    - our name - our trademarks in the GPL software (i.e. logos, service marks, etc) - our images

    All the above are not covered by the GPL license, only the code itself. With the pricepoints we’ll have, and the model around it, I’m rather confident that people will want to purchase the components, and upgrades, directly through us rather than a knock-off provider that didn’t actually build the code themselves nor can support it with our support staff.

  7. Michael says:

    No offense but this article reads like propogandist material. The fact remains that Open Source Matters had choices. After telling the community that they could sell and create non-GPL based licenses they suddenly reversed course – or perhaps you forgot to include that small issue which is the heart of a vitriolic dispute. Numerous developers who relied upon OSM’s representations have been harmed but these good people were not important enough to be included in the discussion of the options. You admittedly do not understand the arguments of the opponents of the arbitrary decision made by the core team but don’t present them. The Free Software Foundation represents one group of thinkers who are not only not the law, but many would disagree with their positions. In summation, OSM and Joomla made an arbitrary decision without involving the interests of the community that helped them grow. As a result, the most popular features are now no longer available for Joomla — and an entire community has been told and is best advised to speak to a lawyer before using any version of Joomla.

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