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 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 Joomla.org 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:
- Slow and steady. This will be the path to which the community will lead in becoming more GPL compliant.
- We’re unique. For a community this large, with such a unique history, we’re not going to find quick solutions.
- Joomla! Web sites (joomla.org sites) will be made compliant with the GPL. Teach by setting the example.
- Joomla! will ask its huge community to voluntarily become more compliant with the GPL license.
- 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.” http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,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.