1
wishcraft
Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights

Recently one of my clients was approached by XOOPS LLC and told that they need to change there licensing to release software or have their listings removed from Paid Modules. Unfortunatley it has come to the point of spam and I quote:
Quote:

“I can’t even log onto my msn without mamba sending me a threatening message about removing my compiled modules and releasing the code”


After my client consulted a Legal team specializing in GPL, GPL2, GPL3 etc he found the claims and accusations of Michael beck to be flawed, as these modules are easily reproduced in other CMS like Joomla and Drupal and do not need or necessary have to have XOOPS to operate, they do not have to conform to any form of request or compilation methods or even have to be GPL in anyway.

As these are applications for CMS’ they do not have to conform to the licensing of GPL as I checked with our JOOMLA specialist who is finding easy to convert the Chronolabs range of official XOOPS modules over to JOOMLA with ease, this obviously applies.

Now my client is a group of lawyer who really at this point are only interested in suing regardless of what I say - XOOPS Foundation LLC and it main business owner Michael Beck (mamba)..

They will post notice to the xoops legal team at the time in xoops.teams.legal on usenet.

Both my wife and Paal commented they would be more than happy to be a constructive moderator on xoops.org – but mamba doesn’t seem interested in making Xoops the very best it can be only his possession but I don’t know if his legal savvy view he has presented that he can take on any case is in anyway constructive or moderatored by the senior leadership as from what I have read it is like a 2 year old behavior from the individual.

The question is who will moderate the moderators, seem Mamba pissed off the wrong person finally, seeming these originally approached me from what I found to be the XOOPS Legal team.

And you know that ranker has changed my password to log into xoops.org again.. Seems for some reason he just can't stay away from that platform.
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2
Mamba
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/6/2 21:00

  • Mamba

  • Moderator

  • Posts: 11245

  • Since: 2004/4/23


Quote:
After my client consulted a Legal team specializing in GPL, GPL2, GPL3 etc he found the claims and accusations of Michael beck to be flawed, as these modules are easily reproduced in other CMS like Joomla and Drupal and do not need or necessary have to have XOOPS to operate, they do not have to conform to any form of request or compilation methods or even have to be GPL in anyway.

I am glad that your client consulted with the lawyers.

However, XOOPS is the wrong entity to argue about it. You and your client would have to argue with Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Software Freedom Law Center, as they are the one who own GPL and are interpreting how GPL should be used/implemented.

As I told you, we support developers creating XOOPS commercial modules that they can sell. However, our understanding is that all XOOPS modules have to be released under GPL, as it is stated here on GNU Website:

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLModuleLicense

And as GPL-based modules, the source code has to be made available to the customer who paid for them.

This is very well documented on Drupal:

http://drupal.org/licensing/faq#q7

especially questions 7, 8, 9

which is very clear about what you can and cannot do with modules based on Drupal, and since we're using the same license (GPL), the same applies to XOOPS as well.

Bottom line - if you distribute a XOOPS module, regardless if it's paid or not, you have to provide (or offer to download) its source code, so the user (or client, if it's paid) is able to modify the code if he desires that!

Since your "End User License" stated that

Quote:
You agree not to modify, adapt, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Software.

it would add restrictions to GPL, and therefore it seems that it would violate GPL.

I am not a lawyer, and I don't want to get here into a long discussions about licenses here. I suggest to contact directly Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Software Freedom Law Center, to get their opinion if your End User License is in violation of GPL. Once you have it, please let us know.

Couple of useful links related to similar Open Source projects using GPL and addressing what can and cannot be done with GPL:

Joomla

WordPress

Interesting case study involving Joomla & Simple Machines

Once again - we do support commercial (paid) modules for XOOPS, and are glad to place them in our repository, but they need to be compliant with GPL.
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3
ghia
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/6/3 0:07

  • ghia

  • Community Support Member

  • Posts: 4953

  • Since: 2008/7/3 1


Quote:
Quote:
You agree not to modify, adapt, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Software
.
it would add restrictions to GPL, and therefore it seems that it would violate GPL.
These kind of clauses (as used by proprietary software) is exactly the reason why the GPL license was conceived.
The user is free to do what he wants with his aquired GPL software and any clauses that limits his rights by eg making the sources a trade secret, are invalid.
XOOPS is GPL and its modules that are a kind of plug-ins, require also GPL.
But of course you may sell your works.

4
Mamba
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/7/7 4:58

  • Mamba

  • Moderator

  • Posts: 11245

  • Since: 2004/4/23


From this message:

Quote:
For paid or commerical modules, the user of the module is required to pay a certain amount/fee (either monthly, yearly or in a lump sum) to the module author for the use of module. In return, the module author grants a right to the user to use the module in his/her XOOPS module. In the same time, under GPL, the module author must give the source code of the paid or commerical module to the user for him/her to modify it in case the module has problems or the user wants to adapt it to other purpose.

Correct.

Quote:
However, if the paid or commerical module is completely independent. It means that it can run without the installation of XOOPS or other CMS. Then, it may follow its own licence and may choose not to give the source code of the module to the user even though the user has paid the author an amount as consideration.

Correct. But to this day I am not aware of any module that works with XOOPS and is independent of XOOPS, as defined by GPL.

Quote:
However, back to reality, if the author of a commerical or paid module DOES prohibit the user (after he/she paid a fee/amount) from having the source code of the module and from modifying, editing or releasing the source code:

(1) What will XOOPS do? What will other authority do?
(2) What loss (economic, social or legal loss) to the author?
(3) What penalty/compensation will the author suffer from?

If there is no harm or loss to the author of these paid or commerical modules, the user of these paid or commerical modules may not be affected. However, if (1) - (3) is possible, the user of the these commerical or paid modules will be affected and may be prohibited from continuing to use these modules in their XOOPS site.


Normally, if you buy a module and don't get the source, the author of the module is violating GPL. Therefore you can report the violation to GNU and you can contact Software Freedom Law Center

Some of the legal cases involving GPL violations:

- Cisco Systems

- Verizon

- Skype

- Westinghouse and others

- Jacobsen v. Katzer
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5
cadelite
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/7/7 7:31

  • cadelite

  • Just popping in

  • Posts: 86

  • Since: 2008/1/15


Thanks, Mamba!

For those software released under GPL, the traditional profit-making method of keeping source code in pyramids and securing it from outsiders' eyes does not work. Instead, the competition (and, at the same time, co-operation) by techniques and skills in software development becomes a key and new method of profit making. On top of these, the developers may also provide counselling, training and after-sale services to the end users (e.g. the successful mode of XOOPS in Taiwan ).

Why not just allow your end users to modify or edit their source code to suit their own uses or fix the source code by themselves (or counselling you, instead). If your software is really brilliant and loved by the end users, it will be popular and you will still be making profit. Don't get used to the bad practice of the developer of printer driver (the open source story) !

Let's put our efforts on the development of XOOPS 2.5 and 3!

6
Mamba
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/7/7 8:09

  • Mamba

  • Moderator

  • Posts: 11245

  • Since: 2004/4/23


Quote:
On top of these, the developers may also provide counselling, training and after-sale services to the end users

That's what Red Hat is doing, and they have built a very healthy business around it
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7
redheadedrod
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights

What about the idea of someone having to sign a NDA when they buy software to get the source code? Does that also violate the GPL? Since all your really agreeing to is that your not going to pass the code on to someone else?

Just playing devils advocate here.

I am a newbie in this whole development thing and I fully expect any modules I write to be out there for people to suggest changes to and maybe look it over and tell me what I did wrong so I can improve on it. So it really doesn't apply to me.

What about licenses which allow you to use modules on a non commercial site for free? Can you require a payment to use this same module on a commercial site?

Just thinking out loud. I expect any modules I make to have a "donations" button and hope for the best. I don't expect to make money off them but I hope if someone does find it does them well that they do donate.

Attending College working towards Bachelors in Software Engineering and Network Security.

8
Mechs
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/7/12 5:18

  • Mechs

  • Just popping in

  • Posts: 34

  • Since: 2007/4/16


A very usefull info, maybe moderator can make this sticky.

Just to clarify, we can sell/take donation/give free the xoops core, if we choose to sell, how much can we sell/charge, any price structure, any price guide.

Now let say i sell my module and give options to the user

1. pay a certain amount and use but are not allowed to access the source code but at the same time give an option to buy the source code

2. buy the source code including the documentation related to it.

Option 1. if the user have an intention to buy the source code later but with limited budget at the time of purchase.

Need your opinion on this.

9
Mamba
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/7/12 6:16

  • Mamba

  • Moderator

  • Posts: 11245

  • Since: 2004/4/23


Quote:
1. pay a certain amount and use but are not allowed to access the source code but at the same time give an option to buy the source code

Obviously you still don't understand the concept of GPL.

All XOOPS modules are GPL because they are derivative work!

Since they are GPL, you HAVE to give the user the code! There is no way around it!

You can charge for it, but you can NOT withhold the code from the user! If you do, you're violating the GPL.

You can also charge for service/support of those modules.

But again: you can NOT withhold the source code.
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10
Mamba
Re: Legal Quotations of GPL and Rights
  • 2010/7/12 6:29

  • Mamba

  • Moderator

  • Posts: 11245

  • Since: 2004/4/23


Quote:
What about licenses which allow you to use modules on a non commercial site for free? Can you require a payment to use this same module on a commercial site?

Yes, you could do it. Since you're allowed to sell Open Source code, you can decide when you charge for it and when not.
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